Eng1501 Road to Mecca
1. What is the reason for Marius’s visit? What does he want Helen to do?
Marius had been to see Helen previously about her moving into an old age home. His primary reason for now being there is to see if Helen has made her decision on this matter. Marius asking Helen “You’re quite certain that you want to discuss this now, Helen?” shows that they were both fully aware of the reason for this visit by the Dominee. He is also concerned as to whether she is eating correctly and uses this opportunity to bring her some vegetables out of his garden. This is evident when Marius says “And at our age we need fresh vegetables, Helen. (wagging his finger at her) Marie biscuits and tea are not a balanced diet.
2. Marius claims that he knows what is good for Helen and that is why he has come to visit her. Do you believe him? Why?
I believe that Marius in his own mind believes that he knows what is best for Helen, but in actual fact he has no idea what is going on in Helen’s mind or psyche. I believe that his intentions are good and coming from the right place, being concerned and doing his Dominee duties. When Marius says “You seemed to understand that the only motive on our side is to try and do what is best for you.” Shows that he thinks he knows what is best for Helen. “I’m concerned with her feelings, Miss Barlow, not yours”
Marius: ‘Miss Barlow, for the last time, what you do or don’t believe is not of the remotest concern to me. Helen is, and my concern is that she gets to live out what is left of her life as safely and happily as humanly possible. I don’t think that should include the danger of her being trapped in here when this house goes up in flames.” This statement from Marius shows us two things:1) That he believes he knows the best solution to her safety as he would not want to send her away if he didn’t believe that it was the best decision for her. He also wanted to keep her safe due to the fact that her curtains had caught alight and she, had after a short while of trying to extinguish the flames, just stood there and watched it burn. The concern is that she didn’t run out and/or call for help. She instead just stood transfixed and watched the flames.
When Elsa says “Don’t talk about her as if she were not here. She’s right next to you, Dominee. Ask her, for God’s sake........... but this time give her a chance to answer.” This statement shows us how much Marius thinks he knows what is best for Helen. So much so that he takes the liberty to speak on her behalf without her asking him to do so. Over and above this Marius has made all the necessary plans and found out all the relevant information about the old age home for Helen without her instructing him to do so.
2) He has feelings for Helen. Over all Marius has a true concern for Helen and believes he knows what is best for her. In my opinion he does not truly know her sorrow, happiness or her needs. He does not discover her actual reasons until much later in the play. His intentions may be pure and, in his opinion best for Helen but he does not truly know what is best for her.
3. Elsa claims that Marius is in love with Helen. Do you agree with her? Why?
I agree with Elsa that Marius is in love with Helen. Throughout scene 2 there is a build up to him opening up and coming to the realisation that he is not just concerned for her as a friend and Dominee, but in a deeper way. This is shown in the play on many occasions. When Marius says, “The moment I stood up there in front of the congregation, I knew your place was empty” we become aware of how Helen stood out amongst the other members of the congregation from the onset. From the beginning she had made an impression on him.
“Those statues out there can’t give you love or take care of you the way we wanted to. And, God knows, we were ready to do that. But you spurned us, Helen. You turned your back on our love and left us for the company of those cement monstrosities.” Marius’s reaction at this point reveals his emotional connection to the situation. He is not merely a Dominee acting in the best interests of a congregation member, he is a man who is jealous of the attention given to the “cement monstrosities”. Furthermore, Fugard gives us insight through his stage direction, Elsa, who has been listening and watching quietly, begins to understand. Here we clearly see that even Elsa is aware of Marius’s true feelings.
Marius really begins to express his feelings when he says, “No, you haven’t! If that were so, you wouldn’t be asking me to defend myself against the accusations of someone who knows nothing, nothing, about my true feelings for you.” Here he is admitting that he has feelings that up to this point he has kept hidden. Feelings that were perhaps not appropriate in his mind and so he chose to suppress them. When he says, “a life I care about as deeply as any I have known......” Marius is expressing not just concern and love but absolute devotion.
Perhaps the most telling moment is when Marius says, “No, I think I do believe you, Helen ... which only makes it all the harder to accept. All these years it has always felt as if I could reach you. It seemed so inevitable that I would, so right that we should find each other again and be together for what time was left for us in the same world. It seems wrong ... terribly wrong ... that we won’t. Aletta’s death was wrong in the same way.” We are left with no more questions about his love for Helen. Marius has compared the death of this possible relationship to the death of his wife, Aletta which was a turning point and almost a breaking point in his life. It is clear that he wanted to be the person that Helen could turn to and rely on. He wanted to fulfil her needs. That he was not that person does not detract from the reality that he was not.