Comparative Studies Cultural Context Q The cultural context of a text can determine the characters and events of the text greatly. Discuss in relation to at least two texts you have studied in your comparative studies course. Texts studied: How Many Miles to Babylon, by Jennifer Johnston (HMMB) Sive, by John B Keane 32A, directed by Marian Quinn
The texts I have studied as part of my comparative course are greatly determined by the cultural context of the text; we can see results of this on both characters and events of each text. In each text I have studied the time and setting of the texts, the class structures and economic statutes of the characters, the customs, traditions, power and especially the values of the societies all profoundly determine the faith of the characters of the texts and the events that determine their faith.
Point: Economic factors and social status ultimately controls the lives of the characters. Time and setting determines most of the factors of cultural context in a text. HMMB is set in Ireland in the year 1914 in rural county Wicklow. We see a society that centres and revolves around economic status and in which class distinction is rigidly defined and upheld. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________While social class still exists today, it was a much more powerful and unquestionable force in 19th century Ireland. A person’s destiny was determined at birth almost as we see in the case of the main protagonists Alec and Jerry. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The relationship between Alec and Jerry highlights the unjust inequality system in place in their society. Social class strongly determines the lives and faiths of both Alec and Jerry in the text. In Sive, also set in rural Ireland but at a much later date in the 1950s, society is not so much divided by social class as in HMMB, but which is determined very much by the value of wealth and a need and want to better oneself to allow for a comfortable life away from poverty. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________It is a time of harsh poverty and people are measured in terms of the land and the crops they possess. There are many references to the fear of the poorhouse and the rough reality of poverty. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Marriage and love are both seen in pragmatic terms in relation to the amount of possessions a person has.
It is a time when matchmakers were popular and local trades flourished. Matchmaking is a distinctive part of the cultural context; Thomasheen is actually a matchmaker by trade. This was a traditional aspect of rural Ireland. The majority of the characters in the play see it as a young girl’s purpose in life to marry a suitable man that could provide a comfortable life for her. In one key seen in Sive we see Sive’s aunt and for all purposes mother driven to fulfil the match between Sive and Sean Dota in the guarantee of a wealthy sum of money for her meddling services. _____________________________________________________________________________