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Master Harold & The Boys .docx

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Philosophy 2260F/G

1 19-06-2012 Word Count: 1671 words World Literature Assignment “I look forward to beginning my journey with you with the astonishing, complex prism of the canon of Athol Fugard, a playwright whose work has had a global influence on theater, writing, and social justice.” (Hughley). Athol employs a wide range of tools to get his message across to the masses. One of the most important tools in Athol’s toolbox proves to be the language he uses, which usually pertains to his use of various speech devices such as: dialogue, monologue, and dialect. The diction that the characters use finds itself somewhat characterized by Fugard’s life; the fact that he lived through a period of time in which racism was very common greatly affects his use of the speech devices in his works, specifically his influential play “Master Harold…and the boys”. In the play, the characters’ dialogue can be either superior or inferior according to race, which brings out the social and political background and situation-Apartheid. In addition, it brings about the inner thoughts of the characters and their inert characterization. Dialect highlights the differences between the races at the time; the strength of the bonds between the characters proves to be evident, as well as the superiority of one race over the other. The language and structure Athol Fugard employs in his play “Master Harold…and the boys” plays a very critical role in portraying the theme of racism. Dialogue undoubtedly proves to be a vital component in every play, which stands no different in “Master Harold…and the boys”. Athol intentionally uses 1 2 dialogue in order to bring about and highlight many important ideas in the play. First and foremost, highlighting the superiority of the whites over the black by instilling this in the manner with which Hally (Harold) converses with the two black servants working at his mother’s tearoom (Sam and Willy). Harold tends to use very commanding language, that shows that he is in charge over the two elderly black men, which is ironic but not far from the norm at the time of Apartheid. “I might have guessed as much. Don't get sentimental, Sam. You've never been a slave, you know. And anyway we freed your ancestors here in South Africa long before the Americans. But if you want to thank somebody on their behalf, do it to Mr. William Wilberforce” (Fugard, 15). Here it is clearly shown how Hally imposes his own view on the matter over Sam who is older and much more experienced, which is due to the fact that Hally has complete confidence in his social status as a white man superior to blacks, and his education which both Sam and Willy lack. Secondly, Athol uses dialogue to show how the blacks accepted the position that the apartheid had placed them in, which is conveyed when Hally tosses a rag at Willy’s face and smacks him with it, yet Willy just stutters along and continues working with more concentration, never raising his voice over Hally even though he is older and should normally demand respect. The words used by Athol within the dialogue fit the circumstances at the time and highlight the deep effect Apartheid imposes within the society. Lastly, Athol shows a contradiction to the standing beliefs and his dislike of apartheid by making Sam a sort of stand-in father figure to Hally. This is evident throughout the play and with this very paragraph spoken by Sam, “I know you do. That's why I tried to stop you from saying these things about him. …If you're not careful . . . Master Harold . . . you're going to be sitting up there by yourself for a long time to come, 2 3 and there won't be a kite in the sky” (Fugard, 45). The language used in these dialogues tend to be friendly and Sam is allowed to assume his righteous role as Hally’s father figure and mentor in respect to age and experience. Dialect can be seen as another critical component of the play in study, which highlights the strength of the relationships between the three major characters and some minor characters within the play. When Sam and Willy are shown at the begging of the play without the presence of Hally (the white superior) they converse in colloquial and brotherly dialect that tends to employ much slang. Hey, Boet {brother, pal, comrade} Sam! Sam looks up. I'm getting it. The quickstep. Look now and tell me. [He repeats the step.] Well? Sam: [Encouragingly.] Show me again. WILLIE: Okay, count for me. SAM: Ready? WILLIE: Ready. (Fugard, 2) This goes to show how close the two black men (the black society in general) are brought together under the yoke of the white oppression and this theme is shown continuously throughout the play, and shows the ability of humans to get along perfectly when all are treated as equals. The second major task of dialect in this play proves to be the emphasize the white superiority, this is shown when Hally steps into the scene and Sam and Willy speak to him in formal and polite manners and give him a measure of respect by not 3 4 speaking to him in slang or using their word for “man”
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