One Man Two Guvnors, Womens Roles

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‘Women’s roles are often tokenistic in dramatic comedy.’ To what extent do you believe this to be the case in relation to the play you are studying? Some argue that women’s roles are often tokenistic in dramatic comedy, since women often have smaller or less important roles than male characters. This may apply to the female characters in ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ depending on how you interpret the word ‘tokenistic’. The tokenism of a character may be assessed in terms of the size and significance, or by analysing the stereotypes and complexity of their characters. In ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’, there are three female characters, the uneven ratio of women to men perhaps suggest that the female roles within are less significant than male roles. Bean may have intentionally cast only three female characters in order to portray the inequality of genders within society during the 1960’s. Stereotypically, Pauline is portrayed as a stupid girl who lacks common sense, ‘I don’t understand’. This line is then repeated towards the end of the play. Bean has done this to present Pauline as a two dimensional character, showing no development throughout. Leaving a character undeveloped is a common technique used in many comedies. For example, in ‘Much Ado about Nothing’, Shakespeare leaves the character of Hero undeveloped. Similarly, Bean has used this method on Pauline to show the restrictions some women still faced during the 1960’s by dominating male figures. ‘No! Don’t let him in!’ Pauline is telling her father not to let Roscoe in but Charlie doesn’t listen to her, ‘Roscoe Crabbe can be as late as he wants. And we have an arrangement’ this shows Pauline has little control over her own life. Her father is superior to her and has already decided how her future will be like. Also the audience may suggest that because Roscoe is male he ‘can be as late as he wants’ Pauline on one hand doesn’t get what she wants but Roscoe can come whenever he pleases. It is not made clear if it is because Roscoe is male but the audience may interpret it like this, showing yet another inequality between males and females. However, ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ is an adaptation of the 18th century play ‘The Servant of Two Masters’. The roots of this play originate from Commedia Dell’Arte, a sub-genre where most characters lack depth and shared roughly equal amounts of lines and time on stage, therefore it could be argued that all characters lack depth. Conversely, Dolly plays a very significant role as she acts as a narrator and is relatable to the audience as she is portrayed as a modern character. In the opening scene she takes charge, ‘Leave it to me boys.’ This already portrays Dolly as the ‘middle-man’ for everyone in regards to finding out how ‘Roscoe’ is alive. She also acts as the narrator of the whole play which could illustrate how she is the one with most power as she is the character holding the play together. Dolly does not fulfil the typical roles of what society believed a woman should. Instead she shows she has more power and authority over everyone, ‘you’re a bit of a twat’ Dolly says this to Alan with no worry about receiving criticism. She uses a foul word and although she is a female character she couldn’t care less about what Alan has to say, therefore demonstrating her independence. Dolly is presented as the one with great control and it is evident in Dolly’s asides that she interacts with the audience most and relates to them, ‘don’t take notes girls, there’s a handout at the end.’ This shows how Dolly is playing a more modern role of a woman rather than a tokenistic one. Her interactions with the audience show her level of confidence and how the playwright has presented her as being the link between both characters and audience. This relates back to her commedia character, Columbia; a character of whom is associated with everyone. Rachel Crabbe is the third female character in the play and probably the most significant. She cannot be seen to...
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