The status of women

Although the men do not appear in the play, we learn a lot about them. They are all in some way inadequate:

  • dishonest
  • unfaithful
  • drunken
  • violent

The women are presented in contrast to this. They are all bold.


Deirdre is bold– hammering on the door, demanding entry to the house, accusing Cassie in the club, and demanding the truth from Marie in scene four.


Cassie raises her glass to the bold girls in the club.


Nora uses the word in a negative sense, criticising Cassie for her loud and aggressive behaviour.

But Nora can be bold too. Her stories tell of her standing up to soldiers and policemen invading her domestic space. She adds some light entertainment by being bold enough to pour the drink into the officer’s boots during the raid of the club.


Marie’s boldness takes the form of her courage, being brave and coping great and never complaining.

In general, though, the term is most often used to suggest a kind of loud assertiveness which is a way of masking a rather less confident feeling underneath.

Reality of marriage

The reality of Marie’s marriage is revealed in her talk with Deirdre at the end. He was wild when he was young, says Marie. She does not know the details of his 'heroic deed'. He went away to do it. I stayed here and cleaned the floor and when he came in I’d put his tea in front of him.

Cassie’s marriage has been a matter of putting up with her husband’s repulsive drunken behaviour, so drunk he weeps for his mummy and wets the bed. Nora’s drunken husband Sean would beat her I would say to him, Would you hit your own wife in front of your own wains? Sure I never got any answer at all but bruises

Marie sums up the relationships of men and women towards the end of the play:

So they leave and we’ve it all to do but we’re missing each other even when we’re together and so it goes on and so it goes on and so it always will go on, till we learn some way to change – because this place is no different to anywhere else.

The sentence structure is unsteady here. It is a long sentence with frequent repetition of and. This mirrors the endless process being described, and leaves little ground for any optimism that things will change. The story may take place in Northern Ireland but the message clearly has a universal application.

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