not just another umw blogs weblog

Archive for the ‘Churchill’ tag

Allison Miller’s Formal Blog Post on Caryl Churchill’s A Mouth Full of Birds

without comments

Spirit: He’s

disgusting. He fills the

whole /room up.

 His hair smells. His

eyes have got yellow in

the corners. His ears

have got hairs on. His

nose has got big pores

and the nostrils are too

big and full of hair and

snot and he snores/

and snorts. His teeth are

yellow. His tongue’s


He swallows the air.

That’s why you don’t exist. (Churchill, 13-14)

A lot of people may think that the Spirit represents Lena’s mental disability which she struggles with in the play. I agree,  however, I think Lena’s struggle with the Spirit goes farther than mental disability. I argue that the Spirit creates physical imperfection in Roy. In other words, not only is Lena a victim of mental instability, but Roy is the the victim of physical disability made up by Lena’s subconscious mind. Churhill does this to show that mental disability has the power to control and manipulate physical disability.

What’s interesting is how the Spirit describes Roy’s face, by using a lot of graphic imagery. Notice how the Spirit uses the word yellow when describing different features, especially his eyes, tongue and teeth. To me, the yellow I imagine is a pale, dirty yellow, which gives him unclean look. His ears give me the image of a weeds overgrown and killing  flowers. When the Spirit points out the little details of Roy, they automatically become bigger in a sense that his look becomes unacceptable for Lena’s “clean” mind. In a way, the Spirit creates an ill, corpse like figure.

What’s really scary is when the Spirit says that Roy swallows the air, as well as filling up the whole room. One gets the image of pure air being sucked away because of Roy’s existence. Because Roy exists, he represents something bad spreading around that makes Lena unable to think straight. Because the Spirit creates Roy as physically disabled, he  persuades Lena that Roy is a disease that must be eliminated. When remnants of that disease are around, she cannot be “pure” in a sense, nor get rid of her mental illness (the Spirit). The only way she can get rid of Roy’s disease from spreading to her is to kill the baby, because the baby has Roy’s “tainted” blood. When Lena kills the baby, then she will exist and be happy again. It’s like Victor in Shelley’s Frankenstein, who thinks the Creature is abominable and fears a “tainted” world if he made a female for the Creature (because they might have children). What’s interesting is that there is no mention of an external factor that shuns Roy (society). Instead, the Spirit is controlling Roy’s exclusion, which means that Lena’s mind is classifying him as ugly and unacceptable to her.

Even though Lena did kill the baby, she forgets one thing; Roy. If the Spirit was right, then she would have to kill Roy as well in order to be free of his existence (or disease). Not only does Roy get upset about the murder, but the Spirit comes back and will continue to come back because of Roy’s existence. Lena’s subconscious leaves Roy losing his baby, therefore losing a part of himself through his daughter. However, that was the Spirit’s plan overall. He deceives Lena of being free from Roy’s imperfection as well as existing within a “clean” state of mind to show that the mind wants an ideal perception, but can’t have it.

Written by library1288

October 6th, 2010 at 10:07 am

Stacy Keser’s A Mouthful of Birds, Caryl Churchill and David Lan

without comments

When you stop being in love the day is very empty. It’s not just the

one you loved who isn’t exciting anymore, nothing is exciting.

Nothing is even bearable. So it wasn’t till then that I left my wife

and my job. I can’t stand small pleasures. If there’s nothing there’s

room for something to come. Sometimes on my third scotch I’d

wonder if now…so I continued with the scotch. Days are quite

long when you sit in the street but it’s important not to do anything.

It may not be love next time. You can’t tell what it’s going to be. You’re

lucky if once in your life. So I stay ready.   (pg 26)

Paul is imprisoned within his own mind as he goes mad and is consumed by his obsession; this madness and obsession is his mental disability because it inhibits him from fully functioning in society; he loathes in his own self pity, while incessantly waiting for some kind of life changing transformation.  Ultimately, Paul gives up everything for nothing because he has certain expectations of society and chooses a life of waiting, instead of pursuing the ‘small pleasures.’

Paul’s madness can be traced back to his obsession with the pig. The pig made him extremely happy and he wanted to possess it more than anything else, distracting him from his wife and job. ‘It’s not just the one you loved who isn’t exciting anymore, nothing is exciting.’ His fixation devoured the stability in his life, his wife and job no longer were important to him which is why he leaves both behind. He said ‘nothing is exciting’ because for him, nothing else at the time really mattered to him anymore.  ‘If there’s nothing there’s room for something to come.’ Paul chooses to be alone in the world and have no little pleasures so that he can be ready for something else, something better. Paul is trapped within his own madness, not being able to escape such thoughts and ideas. He loathes in his sorrows by drinking scotch on the streets day after day, living a monotonous and static life.  ‘It may not be love next time. You can’t tell what it’s going to be.’ As he waits around for something, even he seems slightly aware that what he desires could potentially not even happen. Yet, he remains confined by such ideas and expectations.

Paul’s likeness for the pig becomes his obsession, consuming him with madness. He gives up everything so that he makes room for something much more desirable. ‘So I stay ready.’ Instead of choosing the life he had been living or pursuing pleasures, he wallows in his self pity, while holding on to expectations and waiting for a transformation that we as readers are fully aware that these are false expectations and an ideal transformation that will not happen.

Written by skeser88

October 6th, 2010 at 9:08 am