Hi, it's my first post so not really sure how to do this, apologies if this is in the wrong place and stuff but I have AQA GCSE English literature coming up on the 22nd, and would really appreciate some advice on how to improve and what sort of grade to expect from this particular response, thanks again
Question: 'how does thomas present relationships between men and women in under milk wood?'
Under milk wood is a radio play that is set in a small welsh village with a personality of its own. The fact that it is a radio play means that Thomas has had to utilise methods in order to set the scene for the listener and let the listener imagine the scene in their heads, such as the narrative First Voice.
First Voice is presented as an omniscient and omnipresent being, who's role appears to be as a backdrop, to paint a picture of the surroundings, very similar to the backdrop of a play. One example is on pages 46/47, 'Love, says the Spring'. 'Spring' is a time when animals are mating and having sex and this is the type of love that the scene is referring to. Since even the first voice, a supposedly superior being, is overcome by this emotion, then it could be assumed as the lesser humans will also succumb to this. One of the most consistent themes throughout the play is sex, and the men and women seem overcome with these urges.
Thomas also uses Audio imagery for effect: 'bounces under birds' bums'. The repetition of the 'b' phoneme creates the sound of the bouncing bed that takes place during intercourse, which highlights the intent and message of this scene. Again, the First Voice is helping to paint a picture in the mind of the listener, to help the listener guage the atmosphere. 'Birds' could be a reference to nature, and since nature is also engaging in sexual activities, it seems like a natural thing to do, and highlights the culture of the village, which is very sexualised. Sex is discussed and enjoyed relatively openly, and its presentation is positive. Thomas could be saying that, even though sex is seen to be a sin, it should in fact be enjoyed as a pleasure of life, and something that makes people happy.
Continuing with this interpretation, it appears as though the couples who do not have sex very often are the ones who aren't happy. One example is the description of the Pughs' tea: 'cold grey cottage pie' . Thomas uses the pie as a symbol for the relationship between Mr and Mrs Pugh. The coldness of the pie represents the coldness and lack of life in their relationship. To be cold can also be a euphemism for a lack of sexual encounters, and so Thomas could be suggesting that, because they do not engage in intercourse, it is due to this that they have no 'spark' or enjoyment to their relationship. This, in turn, could be saying that to be sinful is the only route to being happy and enjoying life, possibly due to the fact that Thomas himself was an enjoyer of sinful activities in his lifetime. It could also be interpreted that to be in a marriage also leads to a lack of sex, and in turn a lack of enjoyment. This is also the case with another marriage in the play, that of the Ogmore-Pritchards.
The only marriage that does seem happy is that between the Cherry Owens. However, in this case, the marriage is full of sinful activities: 'I got you into bed and you breathed all night like a brewery'. 'Bed' is a place where sex takes place so it is likely that the Cherry Owens do engage in intercourse on a regular basis. Also the fact that he smelt like a 'brewery' suggests that Cherry Owen is an alcoholic, another sinful activity. However the fact that they remain happy makes it seem like the only way to maintain a happy relationship is through sex and alcohol. Sex is again seen as something to be enjoyed and also alcohol is introduced. 'They both laughed delightedly together' shows that they are enjoy the company of one another, but also makes their relationship seem normal.
Each character in the play has their own individual dialect and idiolect. Gossamer Beynon speaks with an upper class accent: 'Lover and his less' while the children speak like working class, slurring their words: 'luvver and his lars'. Each idiolect represents an individual life and background and an idea of the complexity of the community. The fact that each talk about sex shows how ingrained this is in the culture of the village, and the whole behaviour of the village overall.
Another thing that shows the community is through music. Polly Garter sings about men that she has had sex with: 'Tom, Dick and Harry' and is written in verse, giving her song a folk-like quality. Folk music is the music of the community and shows the culture of the community. The culture of the village runs through the song, and since the song is about sex, it shows how important a role sex plays in the community, and how fundamental it is to the village's culture.
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