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Aoife O’Driscoll

w w w. a o i f e s n o t e s . c o m

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comparative study.

Comparative Study

‘A person is often greatly influenced by his or her social setting.’ Show how the social setting greatly influences a character in one of the texts on your 2008 Leaving Certificate Examination

Key words: Money Marriage Gender differences Attitude towards love and marriage

The text I have studied as part of my comparative course is John B. Keane’s tragic play, Sive. It is clear from the outset that the world in which Sive lives influences her so greatly that it ultimately leads to her being pushed into a situation from which she sees no escape but suicide. Were it not for the setting, the attitude of those around her to money and marriage, and the clear power imbalance between men and women, then I do not believe Sive would have met with such a terrible end.

Sive is set in a remote, hilly farm in the south of Ireland. Life in the house is primitive and the Glavin farm is on poor, boggy land. This is a difficult place to make a living, and the harshness of the setting is reflected in the hardness of characters such as Mena and Thomasheen. They are so keen to ensure a comfortable and secure future for themselves that they are prepared to sell Sive to the lecherous old farmer, Sean Dota. If the Glavin family’s situation was not so desperate, I do not think Sive would be faced with such an appalling prospect.

The isolation of the Glavin farm makes it possible for Mena to isolate Sive from the outside world and thus to bully and browbeat her into submission when Sive voices her horror at the thought of the match. A key moment which shows the way in which Mena isolates Sive in an effort to force her to agree to the marriage and thus make Mena’s future more secure occurs in Act 1, Scene 3. Mena and Sive are alone in the kitchen and Mena takes the opportunity to attempt once more to make Sive accept the match. She tells...
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