How does Hare convey the changes in Gerard McKinnon ‘s state of mind during the course of the play?
Gerard McKinnon is the protagonist of Hare’s play. He is at the principal point of the action. He is the character, which draws together various strands of the action in the plot, for example, the barrister, the police, the prison officers and the prisoners. Ultimately, he is the victim of the policing system, which “fitted him up”, the unwilling legal representatives who let him down, the bench, which sentenced him, and the prison service, which fails to protect him. Hare’s exposition starts dramatically with stage directions. “ Then suddenly from nowhere they’re all there- the judge, the jury, the battery of lawyers.
Hare’s powerfully dramatic opening is used to emphasise the visual impact of the “power” of the court. Gerard is juxtaposed with the legal system. Hare portrays him as being vulnerable as he is set apart from the other suspect’s Travis and Fielding through the use of lighting. “ But the emphasis is on McKinnon. ” The whole company is lit to show the power of the law, and then changing it to concentrate on Gerard in the midst of it all, is delicately done by Hare to represent him as the victim. Hare uses the dramatic device of a stream of conciseness in order for the audience to gauge his innermost thoughts.
The repetition of the phrase “ Its coming, It’s coming”, shows Gerard’s anticipation for outcome. The long sentences with many caesuras and hyphens breaking them up suggest that his fear is overwhelming him; it also indicates his panic stricken mind. Thus, encouraging the audience to view the bar in a less favourable light. The word “slowly” indicates that Gerard is experiencing disbelief that the verdict is imminent. He contrasts this feeling with the slowness of the court case building up to his moment. When Gerard’s soliloquy resumes and he is found to be guilty.
He tries to not take responsibility for his actions. Hare illustrates Gerard’s detachment from his crime, with the line, “part of me thought, this is really stupid, I mean I’m not really doing this”. He remarks of the clear distinctiveness of the lawyers and the judiciary, who after the sentencing will go “home to their wives, to wine in fine glasses and the gossip of the bar…” while he, who is “the stuff of their profession” will be locked away in gaol. There is a finality and submissiveness in Gerard ending his stream of conciseness using the word “gaol”, indicating that Gerard feels hopeless and trapped.
Here, Hare through the use of juxtaposition, illustrates Gerard’s discontent towards the judiciary. Moreover, Hare draws a divided society comparison of “us versus them”. The lawyers and the judiciary represent the wealth and elite, whilst Gerard represents the lowest of the social heap. Hare, uses the character Irina to give the audiences glimpses of Gerard in jail, the audience witness Gerard’s decline and despair. When Irina first visits him, Gerard, is wary of receiving a lawyers help, given that he has been let down by the legal profession before, as Sir Peter his solicitor never came back to visit him.
He bluntly states that he wishes he gave him a pen for his help with, “ Don’t jerk me off I’ve already come,” written on it. The crude lexical choice of the word Gerard uses, shows his complete lack of faith of lawyers and the judiciary system. However, as the conversation progresses, Gerard begins to trust Irina. He starts to view her as a friend, as there is an unconscious solidarity between them, as the are both potential victims of marginalisation. She’s a black female lawyer working in a man’s world and he faces discrimination on the basis that he is Irish.
They both identify with each other’s victim status. Gerard opens up to Irina, and expresses intense fear “cos im scared. Scared, so I have to use the lavatory. ” Hare uses the repetition of the word “scared” to further point out Gerard’s vulnerability in the fact that he has no one to depend on. Their conversation becomes more private with a sudden intimacy between them, which Gerard enjoys. In the last part of the scene, Gerard believes he has a friend who he can dependent upon to help him in appealing his verdict. He becomes more optimistic when Irina says that she’ll come back to see him. Yes. Yes, I’d like that. ” The repetition of the word “yes” indicates that Gerard suddenly realises how much he would like to see Irina again. In Act two scene one, Hare again uses the literary device of Stream of conciseness to revel Gerard’s innermost thoughts. The audience realise that Gerard is losing hope very rapidly and the thought of winning the appeal looks very bleak. This is illustrated when Gerard says, “Calm down, Gerard. Don’t get excited. ” This shows that Gerard does not want to give into false hope. His glimmer of hope that he had with Irina seems to have faded.
When Irina Visits Gerard for the last time, the audience see the decline of Gerard’s character. This scene is after the violent assault that Gerard has just experienced. Irina states that his sentence has been reduced, however, Gerard seems indifferent to the news she brings him, this reduction is not enough to save him from the brutality and crime that happens in jail. Their conversation lacks the intimacy of their earlier encounter; Gerard uses abrupt short dismissive sentences, “Thank you then. Thank very much. ” To indicate that there is no need to carry on with the conversation, as all hope is gone.
Towards the later part of the scene, Gerard expresses interest in read Irish books now. “When I was brought up, it was always a background. But I laughed it off…I’m not laughing now. ” Hare leaves us with an impression that Gerard’s newly aroused interest in Irish history indicates a spark of defiance, an increased awareness that in this world it is a case of “them and us. ” There is finality to the words “Goodbye, Irina. ” Which Gerard uses to end the scene ,he acknowledges that Irina will probably not see him again as the court case is adjourned and that he must face his life in isolation as a victim of marginalisation.