Monday, November 29, 2010

The Pillow Man and Persepolis (I hope we're not graded on the creativity of our titles)

Last Sunday I attended the Loyola Poisoned Cup Players production of The Pillowman By Martin McDonagh. Prior to attending I had no idea what the play was actually about, all I had heard was that it was a dark comedy. While there was some sarcastic humor thrown in occasionally to give the audience a laugh, I certainly would not consider this play to fall into the comedy category at all. I definitely did not expect it to be as dark as it turned out to be. The basic premise of the play was that due to his upbringing a young man writes very twisted stories in which children typically die in horrific ways. The author’s younger, and retarded, brother does not believe the plausibility of his stories and decides to test out if young kids can really be killed in the ways in which his brother describes in his stories. We find out in the play that the retarded brother ended up killing a number of young kids, replicating what was done in the stories, and both are brought in for questioning by a police and a detective.

One of the main themes that I got out of this play was that life sometimes will provide you with unfair circumstances. As a background story to what goes on in the play, the parents of the two boys decided to do a sick experiment on them. They wanted to test out whether or not disturbing noises heard by the older brother while sleeping would change his style of writing to be more disturbed too. To create the disturbing noises for seven years they beat the younger brother, causing him to scream and such. These beatings are what also caused him to end up being mentally retarded as well. As children at the time, the two boys never asked for (or would even want) what came to them, they were just dealt a dreadful fate in the game of life. The play even ends on the note of solidifying the idea of life being unfair. Before the detective is about to shoot and kill the author she tells him she is going to count to ten to give him ten seconds to pray before he dies, although she counts to four and then shoots.

This theme I also found to be prevalent in the book Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Persepolis is about a girl growing up during the Islamic revolution. Throughout the book there are many unfortunate happenings to Marjane and her friends and family. While many bad things happen to different people in the book, they are never to blame for what happens to them. In the beginning of the book all of a sudden Marjane’s life gets turned upside down. She now has to go to a new school, where the girls and boys are not treated equally, and the girls have to wear veils. She didn’t choose for any of this to happen to her. No one ever chooses to grow up in a bad place during bad times; it’s just how life is.

Two vignettes in this book that stuck out to me that highlighted this theme where that of Marjane’s maid and that of her friend Ramin. Marjane’s maid was in love with their neighbor, although sadly they couldn’t be together because they weren’t of the same social class. Although it wasn’t Marjane’s maids fault for being born into a certain social class. Being born into a certain social class isn’t something you can help, it just happens, it is just an unfair circumstance you can’t change or do anything about in life. In the case of Ramin his dad killed people. None of this was Ramin’s fault as he couldn’t control the actions of his dad. Although because of unfair circumstances he was thrown into a pool of hatred by his classmates at school.

In both the play and this particular book judgments were passed about all of these characters for their unfortunate life circumstances. Marjane’s maid wasn’t acceptable as a love interest just because of her social class. She was judged without the boy she liked even getting to know her. Ramin as well was judged for his father’s actions, which he really had no part in. In the play the detective and policeman thought the author to be extremely demented without even knowing his history. Also while watching the play the audience judged the policeman to be an extremely cruel and soulless person for no reason. It wasn’t until the end that we learned our judgments were wrong when we learned of his past. Overall the most surprising thing I’ve noticed this semester is that judgments are everywhere. Everyone is always passing judgments and it’s really just a part of our human nature. Regardless, even if this is so I’ve come to be in agreement with the statement that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Judgments should really try to be avoided without knowing people or their back stories.

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