General Vision and Viewpoint
Lies of Silence, Dancing at Lughnasa & Il Postino
The general vision or viewpoint relates to the authors or directors outlook on life. This outlook affects our own perspective on the text and the world of the text. The author shows us his own outlook through the plot, characters, relationships, the society in the text and also through language – the main viewpoint can be seen in one key single moment.
Lies of Silence is set in Northern Ireland in a society bitterly divided thanks to some ancient political/religious conflict. There are some moments of light – even happiness (almost) but mainly it is a gloomy, dark novel – the viewpoint is grim. Even the way the book opens is pessimistic and it sets the tone for the rest of the story. At the beginning of the novel, Michael Dillon is depressed at the familiar sight of armed policemen in armoured cars. Michael feels that there is a certain lawlessness in the current society and this is shown in the image of their guns ‘cowboy-low on their thighs’ suggesting something belonging to the Wild West. Michael feels completely dejected at this point – ‘Why should he stay here, why should anyone in their senses stay here?’
The relationships in the text vary – Michael and Andrea are briefly happy but the outcome of this affair only adds to the gloomy nature of the story. When the novel begins it is clear that Michael’s and Moira’s marriage is over – Michael is already in an affair with a Canadian journalist named Andrea. Michael is planning on leaving his wife but he has yet to tell her: ‘He we married and hiding their affair from his wife.’ He married Moira for the wrong reasons – he liked the idea of other men envying his woman: ‘She was tall, beautiful and very flirtatious.’ Even Moira knows that Michael no longer loves her and attributes this to her having lost her looks, telling us that Michael’s love was purely superficial. Moira’s defiance of the IRA (when she publicly denounces the terrorists on television) is one of the few positive aspects of the story but unfortunately is puts her in danger. She lets slip to a journalist that Michael had seen one of the gunmen and this ultimately leads to his death.
Society is portrayed in a dark light in Lies of Silence: dominated by the deep-rooted and violent sectarian conflict. This sectarianism is found on both sides of the conflict – the novel ensures that there is no ‘good’ side. Michael speaks of the ‘priests whose sectarian views perfectly propagated the divisive bitterness’ and describes the Orange Order as ‘that fount of Protestant prejudice against the third of Ulster’s people who are Catholics.’ What is even more depressing is that the two religious figures that are mentioned are deeply involved in sectarian politics – the Reverend Pottinger is a leader of the Orange Order and delivers ‘sermons of religious hatred’ while Father Connolly is linked directly to the IRA and is portrayed as an apologist for their actions.
Poverty is also present in the society of the text – high levels of unemployment are evident in the story. The working classes on both sides of the religious divide are portrayed as being the most sectarian. We are met with images of ‘graffiti-fouled barricaded slums where the city’s Protestant and Catholic poor confronted each other, year in and year out, in a stasis of hatred, fear and mistrust.’ Brian Moore may be speaking through Michael when talks angrily of the ‘lies told to poor Protestant working people about the Catholics, lies told to poor Catholic working people about the Protestants, lies from parliaments and pulpits, lies at rallies and funeral orations, and, above all, lies of silence from those in Westminster, who did not want to face the injustices of Ulster’s status quo.’ This statement in itself is one of the most depressing and disturbing images in the text.
When Michael and Andrea escape to London we think that maybe the story will conclude in a bright...
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