It is revealing to refer to the influence of woman on Sean O’Casey’s early life when dealing with the subject of women in his play ‘Juno and the Paycock’. His father died when he was young and he was brought up by his mother and educated at home by his sister. In his autobiographies, O’Casey gives a rather harsh depiction of his sister but a very affectionate one of his mother. Therefore his mother was to prove a strong influence on O’Casey and this is evident in his playwrights‘. Juno and the Paycock’s plot can be summarised as the collapse of a slum-dwelling Dublin family as a result of the civil war in the newly-created Irish Free State, in 1922. In that era, men were considered more superior than women. It was the men who supported their families by being the main source of financial income. Women also had to work however in working class families to help pay the rent and feed their family. Not only that, but women had the added job of looking after the family and take care of all household chores. It would appear that men had control over ‘their’ women, who in turn, couldn’t do anything to stop them. In this play however, Sean O’Casey paints a different picture. Although the men believe they are in control, it is really the women who are in the driver's seat. O'Casey believes that the women in his play are stronger, more enduring and unselfish than the male characters.
Most of O’Casey’s characters are complex. Mary and Mrs Boyle are the only two characters who are seen to develop as the play progresses. Juno, the mythological wife of Jupiter and mother of the gods, is here switched into the character of a Dublin housewife. She is the real champion of the play and could possibly have been based on O’Casey’s own mother. Juno is an representative of an Irish mother struggling to keep some facade of a family together through a fine balance of threats and cajolement. Unlike women in the 1920’s, she is provider and...
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