Key scene - Maggie’s decision


The end of Act III is of crucial importance in the play. It is in this scene that Maggie loses her stereotypical housewife status to become something much more significant.

Jenny’s arrival is the pivotal moment because Jenny provides them with hope for a better future so that Maggie’s dreams that have been a long time forgotten can be realised.

John declares in his prideful voice: If there is onythin tae be done, it’ll be done by me, but he is then challenged by Lily who says she has had tae fight hauf [his] battles for [him] and then again by Maggie who speaks to him about the council house with a note of pleading in her voice.

It is ironic that after John asserts his position of authority as heid o this hoose that he is passive for the rest of the scene as the women take over.

After accusing Jenny of being a whore, John is humiliated. Firstly by Jenny who says she never had a chance at being with a decent fella because John was never able to provide her with a house she could bring such a man home to, and secondly, by Maggie.

She significantly stops combing her hair which is a sign of her stress and indecisiveness and interposes herself between Jenny and John. These are deliberate actions, different to those of the earlier chaotic Maggie. She then speaks with uncharacteristic force, declaring that they wull be happy!

She describes her coortin days, horrifying John with her whispered impression of John’s lustful persuasion. She persists until John has sunk into a chair, covering his face with his hands, utterly shamed.

Despite regretting her behaviour towards John, Maggie resolves to have a better life. While Jenny kneels before John, adopting her child-like status, calling him Daddy and asking to go back to the past when they both loved each other, Maggie takes charge.

She says she can manage her husband and holding the roll of notes as if it were the key to her happiness, she describes her future where they live in a spacious house.

The final line There’ll be flowers come the spring! ends the play optimistically, as flowers represent the aesthetic world that Maggie has never been able to inhabit, while spring connotes new life full of new opportunities and growth.

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