Women violence and its connection to sexuality and madness in Marina Carr’s Portia Coughlan, By the Bog of Cats and Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Linane. According to the Oxford Dictionary of English, violence is a behaviour involving physical force intended to hurt, damage or kill someone or something, a strength of emotion or an unpleasant destructive natural force. The origin of the word comes from Latin where ‘violentia’ meant ‘to have a marked of powerful effect’.Sexuality is defined as a capacity for sexual feelings, where sexual means relating to the instincts, psychological processes and activities connected with physical attraction or intimate physical contact between individuals. As for madness it is a state of being mentally ill, especially severely.
Psychology has always associated violence with sexuality and madness claiming that in most cases those terms are inseparable. Violence is usually bred by madness which results from sexuality problems, dissatisfaction with own sexuality results first in depression which can evolve into mad behaviour , and later in violence towards self or others.Irish literature is full of violence having sexual background.
Especially women seem to present a perfect example for this thesis. The feeling of being abandoned, useless or misunderstood creates anger and fury which come to the light under the form of violence. Being an outcast for the society makes women fall, the state prevents them from thinking in a reasonable way and makes them being confused. Violence seems to be the only solution for those women as they want to show themselves and others that they still possess power over their bodies and minds, and can still control other humans.Losing their sexual attractiveness they feel like losing themselves and in order to regain wahat they have lost, they employ violence as a tool for solving their problems. All the feelings involved create a dangerous mixture – a mixture of love, hatred, sadness, despair and mental disorder – which drives the wheel of visciousness.
Portia Coughlan is a bitchy, self-centered, lazy, alcoholic, depressive, neglectful of her three kids and desirable to every man in Belmont Valley.She is the heroine of Marina Carr’s striking play Portia Coughlan which tells the story of dark family secrets where the sexual relatinship between a brother and a sister is a catalizator for disastruous and violent deeds. When we first meet Portia – stumbling drunk and disheveled through her living room at 10 o’clock on a weekday morning ( on the morning of her 30th birthday ) – she strikes us much like any other disappointed housewife. Married at the age of seventeen, and now the mother of three boys, she is brooding and bitter, rendered slovenly by her anger.She takes no joy in the moment, nor when her businessman husband returns home to present her with a diamond bracelet, and not when friends and family bearing greetings and gifts begin their steady procession. Although we are told Portia’s home is grand by local standards, its living room seems cramped and stiffling to Portia. The lion’s share of her thoughts ( as well as the setting ) is devoted to the great shimmering, blue-green world of the Belmont River. We soon learn that Portia’s loss, half her lifetime ago, of her fraternal twin, Gabriel, on the night of their 15th birthday, endures as a defining fact of her existence.
Haunted by the strains of his exquisite singing voice, she passes the room trying to evade her brother’s call. She claims that God has given them just one soul and she cannot find her place elsewhere but the Belmont River. Finally, Portia reveals her secret of her great longing after Gabriel. Except for they were twins who understood each other perfectly well, they were also lovers. Thus, her misery is also a result of unfulfilled sexual satisfaction which she cannot achieve either with Raphael nor her lover Damus Halion.
Her behaviour of disgust towards her children is an embodiment of hatred towards her sexual duties to her husband. She disgusts her children, refuses to look after them, treats them as unnecessary burden, and is affraid of being violent towards them ( the scene when she confesses Raphael her fear and desire for killing her youngest boy ). She is vulgar and violent to her husband, refuses everything he does for her, abandons him when he needs her the most. She is troubled by her loveless marriage.
It reminds her of the love she received from Gabriel, she seeks solace in empty affairs which make her disgust her sexuality. She even makes an appointment with the bar tender Fintan Goolan, however, when it comes to sex, her thoughts are sticked to her dead brother and the relation they had. Her strength of the memory of him is so powerful that it influences every sphere of her life. She gets the sense of being divided into two worlds. As a bereft, Portia heads towards madness, she becomes the victim of delusions, and this madness results in the disfunctioning of her family and violence towards herself and the others.