The Role of Gerard in Act 1 Scene 4 of Murmuring Judges

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At the time of writing Murmuring Judges, the whole of Britain was under the terrifying cloud of the IRA. With bombings going off in both England and Ireland, people on both sides feared for their lives. In the eyes of most English people, the Irish were seen as terrorists or, at the very least, co-conspirators. Therefore, Hare saw it as crucial that he set the victim of the play as an Irishman, with the middle-England judiciary being the abusers. As we see in Act 1 Scene 4, Gerard McKinnon is being admitted to jail, with Beckett the prison guard guiding him.

As mentioned before, it seems to be that Gerard is being guided by Beckett. This is his first time being admitted to prison, as he readily admits, and seems like a child going to his first day at school. At first, Beckett treats him like any other prisoner, speaking in short, harsh sentences “Empty all your pockets and strip off your clothes”. But, after realising this is his first time Beckett begins to ease off and become more of a father figure towards Gerard with Gerard acting like a child “I had some spaghetti but I lost it”. This type of paternal reaction seems to happen to most of the people that encounter Gerard. In Act 1 Scene 6, Irina meets Gerard in prison and Gerard again takes the role of helpless child, looking for Irina’s attention “You’ve been thinking of me?” What we are seeing is Hare using Gerard as a mechanism in the play; he is trying to tug on the audience’s heartstrings and make them feel that Gerard is the victim by giving him lines and stage directions that turn him from a young petty thief, into a boy being bullied at his new school.

Hare also places many symbols within the play. In relation to Act 1 Scene 4 he uses both the lighting and setting to create not only a bleak, darkened setting letting to audience barely notice the “...shapes through the gloom” – but to also conjure up images of a hopelessness in the jail, and the insignificance of Gerard or of a single prisoner in...
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