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These stories from Joyce share an emphasis on the subjugation of women by their parents, their spouses, and/or their society and religion.
- In The Boarding House, Mrs. Mooney, the owner of a boarding house of questionable reputation, uses the wiles of her daughter Polly and the power of the Church to snare one of her more respectable boarders as her potential son-in-law.
- Eveline examines the life a young woman trapped by society and manipulated by her family. Ultimately, the play illustrates the overwhelming influence of our environment on the hopes and aspirations we cling to.
- In The Dead, during an annual Christmas celebration, Gabriel Conroy must cope with his doddering aunts, discover the true nature of his relationship with his wife, Gretta and confront his own academic pedantry in the shadow of Michael Fury, the lost love of Gretta’s youth.
An excellent evening for a woman’s fundraiser, the plays are also available for purchase as single one-acts.
Links to the the single one-act:
PDF download available.
From the Play
Evie: You’re just trying to frighten me. I’m leaving with him tonight and that’s final.
Mr. Hill: Leaving? Tonight?
Evie: That’s what I wanted to tell you. I was going to leave you a letter, but I just couldn’t do that to you
.Mr. Hill: You’re taking leave of your senses; that’s what you’re doing. A good Catholic girl running off and bringing shame on herself and her father. And what will I tell your little sister and brother? That their sister has gone mad?
Evie: I’ve taken care of that. They’ll move in with Harry. He . . .
Mr. Hill: (Interrupting her and changing his tone. He becomes more sympathetic here.) And what will I tell our friend and the people I work with? That you lost your mind over a man? The first man who came your way? Evie, you have nothing to worry about. In time, you’ll find a husband, a decent and upright man who’ll love you and provide for you when I’m no longer here. A pretty girl like you doesn’t have to worry. And you’ll be a good catch. You know how to run a house, cook and clean, take care of children. Why any young man would be a grateful for such a capable wife.
Evie: (Surprised) Pretty? You never called me pretty before.
Mr. Hill: Oh, yes, pretty. Yes, I guess you are. There are a lot of things I never said, Evie. But I felt them deeply.
Evie: If you thought I was pretty, you could have said so.
Mr. Hill: (Making it up as he goes along) I’m a hard man. Words don’t come easy to me.
Evie: (Not convinced) You could have tried.
Mr. Hill: I thought calling you pretty would turn your head. But you are pretty, darling. You’re the image of your ma.
From The Dead:
Aunt Julia: What a comfort it is to have a servant like that, one you can depend on. There’s that Lily of ours. I’m sure I don’t know what’s come over her lately. She’s not the girl she was at all.
Gabriel: I meant to tell you that Lily was a little short with me. She almost snapped my head off.
Aunt Julia: Why, what did she say?
Gabriel: I asked her if she was still going to school. “Oh, no sir,” she answered. “I’m done schooling this year and more” And then I replied, “I suppose we’ll be going to your wedding one of these fine days with your young man.” And she answered me with great bitterness. “The men that is now is only all palaver and what they can get out of you.”
Aunt Julia: That’s strange. Lily’s never given back answers. That’s one thing I’ll not take from a servant. I’ll speak to her about it, Gabriel.
Gretta: Oh, Aunt Julia, don’t make such a fuss. Lily’s been such a good girl all these years. It would be petty to say anything.
Gabriel: (Annoyed) Are you calling me petty?
Gretta: Not precisely, but, admit it, you don’t understand young girls. Lily’s at that age when her head is filled with romantic notions and dreams about the ideal man. In time, she’ll learn there is no such thing.
Gabriel: (Laughing) A fine thing to say to your husband.
Gretta: You’re always taking everything personally. I’m talking about young girls in general. They’re sensitive when you question them about romance and marriage. I know about young girls. I was young once.
Gabriel: And still are and still lovely. I suppose you’re right about Lily.
Aunt Julia: (Wishing to change the subject) And how heavily was the snow coming down?
Gabriel: Fairly heavily, and the papers are predicting that it will be the heaviest snowfall in years. Rotten weather, I’d call it.
Aunt Kate: But what would Christmas be without snow? I love snow this time of year. It makes everything look like a picture postcard.
Gabriel: Then you agree with Gretta. She’d walk home in the snow if she were let. No matter how long she’s lived in Dublin, she’s still a country girl.
Gretta: Pay him no mind, Aunt Kate. He’s really an awful bother and a worry wart about health. He’s just so fussy about me and the children. Sometimes I think it’s his way of controlling us. He makes Tom wear green shades for his eyes at night and has him on a course of weight training with dumbbells. And as for Eva he forces her–literally forces her–to eat hot porridge every morning and the poor child simply hates the sight of it. Oh, but you’ll never guess what he makes me wear now?
Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia: (In unison) Whatever can it be ?
Gretta: Galoshes. That’s the latest. Whenever it’s wet underfoot, I must put on my galoshes. Tonight even he wanted me to put them on, but I wouldn’t. The next thing he will buy me is a diving suit.
Aunt Julia: And what are galoshes, Gabriel?
Aunt Kate: Galoshes, Julia, goodness me, don’t you know what galoshes are? You wear them over your . . .over your boots, don’t you, Gretta?
Gretta: Yes, we both have a pair now. Gabriel says their the latest rage in Paris and that everyone wears them on the Continent.
Aunt Julia: (Shocked) On the Continent.
From The Boarding House
Polly: (to Mr. Doran) What are we going to do?
Doran: What am I going to do. How can I find a way out of this mess?
Polly: But I thought you loved me. You said you loved me, and you know I love you. You know how much I care for you. I fell asleep waiting for you to come home last night. I saved a piece of cake for you and . . .
Doran: (Impatiently.) Stop babbling, Polly. I never promised you anything. I’ve never lied to you, have I?
Polly: But you’ve said you loved me. If I ‘d known you’d take on like this, I would’ve never . . .
Doran: Started the affair. You were the one who trapped me. Remember, you knocked on my door one night and . . .
Polly: I only asked you to relight my candle after a gust had blown it out.
Doran: You were half naked!
Polly: It was bath night and I wore a flannel robe . . .
Doran: . . . that flew open and then. .
Polly: . . . then we kissed and kissed and I lost all self-control for love of you. I didn’t plan to fall in love and . . .
Doran: (Throwing up his arms.) This is what it led to– scenes and hysteria. I should have known better than to have an affair with a nineteen year old girl. I should have been more discreet. I should have–
Polly: (Crying.) What’s going to happen to us? Mother wants to see you. What will you tell her?
Doran: Don’t worry, Polly. Your mother is no match for me.
(From the hallway, Mrs. Mooney can be heard coughing repeatedly. She then enters.)
Mrs. Mooney: I think you both have had ample time to take care of business.
Polly: But, mother, Bob won’t . . .
Mrs. Mooney: Mr. Doran will do what is proper after I have a chat with him. Now, Polly, leave us alone for a few minutes and then I’ll call for you.
(Still crying, and casting woeful glances at Doran. Polly exits, reluctantly.)
Mrs. Mooney: Let’s not waste time, Mr. Doran, and get down to business You owe me an apology and you owe Polly…
Doran: I don’t owe anyone an apology. Whatever happened was not my fault.
Mrs. Mooney: Are you blaming Polly? Why, no one in his right mind would believe that.
Doran: What I am saying is the truth, like it or not. I didn’t make the first move. She started things up .
Mrs. Mooney: And you think you can go off without making reparations?
Doran: Is it money you’re after? How much do you want to hush up the affair? Twenty-five pounds?