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 and positive manner. Michael experiences a new lease on life and at the end of one particular day he ‘wanted to say to her that he had never been so happy…’ Professionally Michael was looking forward to managing the Wellington Hotel in London – his enthusiasm for the only business he truly knew had been rekindled (which doesn’t say a lot for his job in Belfast).
Furthermore this positive mood continues when Michael and Moira talk to each other in a caring manner, leading to Michael’s internal debate over whether or not to testify against the IRA – he decides not to and almost immediately the happy ending beings to disintegrate as his change of heart was too late and could not save him from the assassins that were sent to silence him. At the end of the novel, any light present is clouded over in darkness, gloom and hopelessness. •Lies of Silence – life that is dark and gloomy Relationships in the novel add to the pessimism and depression •Vision of Society is grim •Ending is depressing but realistic Dancing at Lughnasa also presents the reader with a dark and depressing view but thankfully this text has some moments of laughter and happiness that lift our spirits. The Michael in this text opens the story, as narrator and character, on a nostalgic note recalling the summer of 1936. Michael mentions a number of events that add to the promise of a happy ending: the Mundy family got their first wireless set (Macaroni) and this provided the family with music, ‘it obsessed us’ •Father Jack returned from Africa where he worked in Uganda for 25 years in a leper colony •Michael’s father appeared twice during the summer These events all took place during that summer of 1936 and in the background was the Festival of Lughnasa – a pagan celebration of harvest encouraging drinking and wild dancing in the hills. Family Life is portrayed in both negative and positive ways. The Mundy family have to deal with a variety of problems all associated with poverty.
The furniture is ‘austere’ and their clothing ‘reflect[s] their lean circumstances’. The girls also have to deal with the embarrassment of Father Jack who has ‘gone native’ during his stay in Africa. It is Father Jack’s mad behaviour that causes the parish priest to sack Kate from her teaching post leaving the Mundy family with no steady source of income. Gerry, Michael’s father, visits Chris but selfishly contributes nothing to the family. These aspects of life in the Mundy home all convey an image of gloom, even though the family do try to counter this gloom to some extent.
The main relationships in the play are within the family with the exception being Chris and Gerry. The Mundy family is a very close-knit one in contrast to the same relationship type in Lies of Silence – the love and closeness of the Mundy family is one of the most positive aspects of the text. Poverty does not break their spirits – this is seen in Maggie’s wit; her response to preparing a meal for the family with only three eggs displays her uplifting sense of humour ‘Eggs Ballybeg’.
The issue of Michael’s illegitimacy would have been a source of humiliation in a small town in Ireland at that time but he is loved by all the sisters regardless, in actual fact he has five mothers. Michael describes Rose as ‘simple’ and yet is not treated any differently – she is loved and shares a special bond with Agnes. Father Jack, even though he was the main reason for Kate losing her job, is still treated with care and respect. Jacks stories of dancing at the pagan rituals in Africa, while embarrassing for Kate, it lifts the spirits of the family as they see the happiness that the memories bring Jack.
Gerry’s arrival also lifts the spirits of the household – Chris is aware of how he has failed her but still she is delighted to see him. Maggie says that Chris ‘laughs all the time with him’ and even Kate remarks that ‘her whole face alters when she’s happy’. Gerry is a colourful character in the play with his walking stick, straw hat and notions of foreign lands and all of the sisters are transfixed by the sight of Gerry and Chris dancing. However, the darkest aspect of the play’s vision of society is the repression of women.
The Mundy girls have no social outlet (in contrast to the freedom expressed by the women in Lies of Silence) and Kate reminds them that they are too old to be going out to dances. This is a realistic portrayed of Irish life during a time when the Catholic Church dictated a conservative and restrictive morality especially in matters concerning the sexes. The desire for emotional fulfilment during a time when the Mundy girls are too old for love and romance can be seen in their fascination with watching Gerry and Chris dance. It is apparent that Agnes may even be in love with Gerry.
She is also prepared to spend her entire life savings on going to one of the Lughnasa dances ‘I don’t care how young they are, how drunk and dirty and sweaty they are. I want to dance Kate. It’s the Festival of Lughnasa. I’m only thirty-five. I want to dance. ’ Rose is infatuated with Danny Bradley, his wife has left him but there may be some degree of power/control present on Danny’s side. Maggie talks about a young man she ‘was keen on’ when she was younger and even Kate harbours an interest in Austen Morgan the local shopkeeper (he marries ‘a young thing from Carrickfad. ’).
Unfortunately Kate becomes aware of the image of the family and prohibits them from going to the dance: ‘Do you want the whole countryside to be laughing at us? – mature women, dancing? ’. The Mundy sisters’ frustrations with the restrictions of society can be seen in the uplifting dance they perform in and outside their home. It is Maggie who starts the dance off as the wireless plays some traditional Irish music (getting louder and louder), Kate initially protests but she soon joins her sisters and is described as being ‘out of character and at the same time ominous of some deep and true emotion. Their dancing is seen as a protest – ‘a sense of order being deliberately subverted. ’ At the end of their dance they look ‘slightly ashamed’ yet they are also said to look ‘slightly defiant’ – this scene is the most joyous in the entire play and shows the family’s resilience in an oppressive world. Society, as in Lies of Silence, is portrayed in a negative manner. Poverty is a feature of the worlds of both texts but it is much more severe in Dancing at Lughnasa.
Financial hardship affects the Mundys in the same way that violence affects the Dillons. The church is painted in an unsympathetic light in both texts (the parish Priest could well be the Reverend or the Priest in Lies of Silence). Dancing at Lughnasa does not end well, much like Lies of Silence it ends with a negative outlook. After the factory arrives in Ballybeg, Agnes and Rose lose their source of income (knitting) and shortly after they leave for England and are never seen again despite the family’s efforts at finding them.
We learn that when Michael finally tracked them down twenty-five years later, he finds out that the sisters had worked as cleaners and eventually ended up on the streets and both died. Father Jack died within a year of coming home leaving Kate inconsolable. Gerry left for the civil war in Spain and his visits eventually stopped – some years later Michael received a letter from a young man of his own age in Wales who had found his address in his father’s belongings.
Turns out that Gerry had been leading a double life – this adds to the gloom of the text when considering his many marriage proposals to Chris – in short he was shallow and selfish (mirrored somewhat with Michael Dillon). On the bright side, the ending is not as bleak as in Lies of Silence – Michael still remembers his family dancing around the house: ‘Dancing as if the very heart of life and all its hopes might be found in those assuaging notes and hushed rhythms and in those silent and hypnotic movements. Dancing as if language no longer exited because words were no longer necessary…’ Both Dancing at Lughnasa and Lies of Silence are bleak and dark •Family life is much more positive in Lughnasa •Relationships are more optimistic in Lughnasa •Society is grim in both, religion is very negative and controlling •Violence affects Lies of Silence the same as Poverty affects Dancing at Lughnasa •Both end in a depressing viewpoint but it is not as pessimistic in Lughnasa (Michael’s memory of dancing). Il Postino stands out in contrast to both the previous texts as its vision is quite optimistic.
Mario is able to rise above the limitations of his world to realise his potential and become happy. The film does begin in a gloomy manner as Mario struggles to communicate with his withdrawn father – their relationship is strained. When Mario shows his father a postcard from America, his father tells him to get a job – he is ‘not a child anymore. ’ Mario’s father earns a meagre living as a fisherman, similar to the Mundy’s house, his home is sparsely furnished and they have just run out of water.
Family life here resembles Lughnasa more than Lies of Silence. The relationship between the two men is problematic while Mario is living at home but it noticeably improves when the son marries the love of his life, Beatrice. We are presented with an uplifting image of joy when she becomes pregnant and Mario listens to the sound of his baby’s beating heart. Contrasting sharply to Lies of Silence, the relationships in Il Postino are very positive – the most important being between mario and Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet and communist living in exile in Capri.
They grow closer when Mario asks the poet to help him win the heart of Beatrice (Neruda had a reputation as a ladies’ man). Mario wins Beatrice’s love by reciting lines from Pablo’s poems. Mario remarks that ‘poetry doesn’t belong to those who write it, but to those who need it’ revealing a deep understanding of poetry. This sparks his interest in poetry and Mario discusses this art with his new friend in Neruda’s home and on the beach, beginning with a discussion on metaphors (being able to relate to ‘I am tired of being a man’).
Mario expresses gratitude to Neruda by asking him to be his best man but he is also interested in Neruda’s communist philosophy (aware of social injustice). Mario grows in confidence through this relationship: the new, assertive Mario takes issue with members of a local politician’s posse who are trying to buy fish at a knock-down price (unfortunately the fishermen become visibly angry at his intervention). Mario also challenges the cynical politician Di Cosimo when he announced that the water works (before the elections he had promised would be built) would not be built.
Mario is sad when Neruda leaves the island and is dejected when Pablo fails to keep in contact with him but we can see the impact that the poet left on him as Mario begins to write his own poetry. He is invited to read a poem that he dedicated to Neruda at a communist rally on the mainland and we can see the personal development and change he has gone through as he addresses such a large crowd. Mario’s other relationships are also positive: he achieves happiness when he marries Beatrice, who loves him deeply and is impressed with his poetic achievements.
Both his father and Rosa (Beatrice’s aunt) come to respect him as a man. The relationship between Mario and Giorgio the Postmaster is also uplifting. These friendships help Mario following Neruda’s failure to stay in touch – this support network is similar to the family unit in Dancing at Lughnasa. The Society of the text is similar to the other two texts – depressing. It is a world of poverty and hopelessness, the differences in wealth is obvious; seen in the sophisticated Pablo and the cynical Di Cosimo. Once again we are met with a patriarchal society – authority figures are male.
Mario’s death may suggest that the film ends on a gloomy note – it is tragic and random but it does not take away from the optimism that his life created. Il Postino differs from the other two texts (where the harsh circumstances crushed the main characters) as Mario was able to rise above the problems of his world to realise his own potential and be truly happy with his love. The painful reality of life reverberates in the ending but we can also see a sense of realism as Neruda fails to keep in touch with Mario and the fact that Mario never saw his son (Pablito – named after his friend).
Naturally Beatrice is angry at her circumstances when Neruda and his wife return after a five-year absence. One of the final images of the film is of Neruda alone on the beach evoking a sense of loss for an inspiring life that fills one with hope. •Il Postino’s viewpoint is much more optimistic •Lies of Silence & Il Postino open in a gloomy manner – Lughnasa begins in nostalgia •Lughnasa & Il Postino portrays a positive family life •Relationships are also positive in Lughnasa & Il Postino