George in Norfolk - Sample Essay
A very amusing and moving part of this scene is when Maire delivers her only line of English ‘George in Norfolk we besport ourselves around the maypole. ‘ ‘Besport’ is an obsolete word, which belongs to an elevated register. The line stands out because of the artificial manner it is spoken in and because of the archaism of the word. Here Yolland briefly forgets that Maire only speaks Irish and becomes carried away with his enthusiasm to communicate. ‘But in our village of Winfarthing we have a maypole too and every year on the 1st May…
‘ Realisation suddenly dawns, Yolland pauses and stares; an action which Maire told misunderstands and exclaims ‘Mother of God, my aunty Mary wouldn’t have taught me something dirty, would she? ‘ Whilst humouress, this lack of understanding is also very moving. The language the playwright employs is balanced with great symmetry and warmth. This is again displayed when Yolland and Maire begin cautiously exchanging the toponyms. They are transformed into more than just words and this becomes the missing link of communication.
These place names are a translation between privacies and are a means of communication and therefore there is no need for lanaguage or meaning. The place names become like music and are spoken by Yolland who loves their sound and by Maire whose heritage they are a part of. As the names become shorter and shorter, a climax builds between the couple. The two parallel monologues come together to say what is in their hearts, as though the lack of understanding has broken down all barriers and restraints.
This is clearly seen with Yolland saying ‘I would tell you how beautiful you are, curly-headed Maire. I would so like to tell you how beautiful you are. ‘ It is made wonderfully clear in the final part of this scene, how communication between two people does not need to consist of words. Infact, they seem to understand each other perfectly ‘Don’t stop, I know what you’re saying. ‘ Yolland and Marie pass words and phrases to each other, both saying ‘Always? ‘ ‘What is that word Always? ‘ and like at the very beginning of the scene, seem to communicate perfectly.
‘You’re trembling’ ‘Yes I’m trembling because of you’ The beauty of their love comes from their purity – language has not confused or muddled it, and after all, emotions never lie. It is ironic, finally that the person who discovers the couple, who have come together without words, should be Sarah, who also has difficult communicating. In my opinion this is one of the most touching love scenes imaginable, since in it, understanding springs from where there was once none and love grows without the need for words to express it. By the end the two lovers seem to be in perfect harmony with each other just as at the beginning of the scene.
This is reflected in the way that their words echo and reinforce what each is saying, as if they could easy follow what the other is saying. In conclusion this scene seems to be an exploration of how language defines who we are and how we interact with one another. We are shown communication can happen without words or grammar but on a much deeper level. The play as a whole deals with many issues and it tries to represent an Ireland that is not especially passionate, nor extremely unsentimental. It is a drama about love and friendship, duty and authority, and both the past and the present.