By theu9139|2017-08-30T06:51:29+00:00August 30th, 2017|ACCOUNTING|Comments Off on Plenty Play Critique Sample
Plenty Play Critique Sample:
David Hare’s play Plenty is one of his most important plays by all means, if not the best of them all, mainly because it stands for a number of social, political and personal values. The play is mainly a representation of the situation in the post-war period in England, a situation where morbidity, futility, frustration and fragmentation are prevalent. The play stands as a bridge between the close past and the situation in the 1960s and 1970s. It fills in a gap that came to being with the end of the war, thrusting away the idealism that dominated during the war, and the developments which followed in the two decades after the war. As a matter of fact, it is these developments and the futility that resulted from them which the play considers with a pivotal focus.
The play is considered to be important for a number of reasons. First of all, it deals with the political situation in Britain in the postwar period, and criticizes the frustration which accompanies this period, especially as the British Empire shrank in size, power and influence. The play also deals with the social fragmentation of the English society, emphasizing the failure of family and the individual. However, what makes this play outstanding, is that it has succeeded in linking individual and social failures to the overall political situation of the postwar period.
Plenty is characterized by a successful effort made by Hare to represent the characters in symbolic as well as in realistic forms. Thus, on the one hand, the characters are very close to the audience, because they suggest individual and social events and conflicts that are familiar to the audience, while at the same time, these characters are also symbolic on the social and political level, reflecting social and individual futility in the postwar period, loss of power, manipulation, and finally political bankruptcy. Plenty’s characters vary but in a realistic sense, providing clichés to the audience. Raymond Brock, for example, represents the war-period diplomat who in the post-war period has lost his power and influence with the end of the war, because what was adequate during the war was not necessarily adequate after the war. Similarly, Sir Andrew Charleson is a cliché of Her Majesty’s diplomatic servant whose duties and interests have shrunken with the diminishing of the British Empire, becoming solely interested in coping with the new situation. Those who could not cope simply had to go. Even Susan Traherne, though being self-confident and nouvelle in the sense that she was unusual, is in effect a cliché since in the end, she dramatically gets defeated by her self-destructiveness and by the resistance of society to her challenging urge for change. Alice Park, not by much contrast to Susan, also defeated, although she did not go insane, represents the failure of free and liberal social trends that tried to survive the post-war period, and though this defeat is not in any sense tragic as the case was with Susan, it reflected an atmosphere of futility in almost every social respect.
Plenty, as the title insinuates, is characterized by abundance of money, wealth, power, freedom and other values, but this is only latent towards the beginning, when everything is still in order. Yet, as things begin to change, and as the limitations of society begin to impose themselves on the characters, “plenty” becomes simply replaceable by “lack,” and the title becomes an irony if not even a burden to the characters. Instead of plenty of money, wealth, and freedom, the setting has plenty of violence, plenty of conflict, plenty of madness, and plenty of distress and depression.
In addition to these themes, violence in particular, is one theme that continues to haunt the characters and events of Plenty to the end. There is violence in the war itself, where Susan was directly involved in the battlefields against the Germans. There is a lot of violence in her personal attitudes, especially when she is finally frustrated by the limitations imposed upon her by the resistive attitudes of the characters surrounding her towards change. Her shooting at Mick reflects the beginning of her madness, and the use of violence is not a manifestation of madness in as much as it is a reaction that reflects her distress, disappointment, and frustration. Thus, “Susan, like the Hedda Gabler she sometimes resembles (gun included), is incandescent, troubling force who doesn’t have to be explained away: we see her in context and she just is.”
The violence and sought liberty manifested by Susan are very typical of Hedda Gabler, especially the gun shooting and the resort to violent expression of herself. As she tries to assert herself in the midst of futility and morbidity, Susan characterizes Plenty with a sense of violence which prevails throughout the play. Susan is also soaked in her war memories, especially that the war period is that time of her life where she expressed the violence and the energy inside her in a productive way. After the war is over, all she does is lamenting over the past, especially as the present keeps depressing her with its unbearable limitations and restrictions. Susan is therefore “…increasingly, clinging recklessly to her souvenir war pistol like a Hampstead Hedda Gabler, she remembers the past.”
This lamenting over the past is very ironical and at the same time, very meaningful. In a way, it is as if Hare is himself lamenting the years of war, those years which despite the destruction and death that they involved, at least gave the individual the chance to assert himself or herself. Susan’s lamenting over the war is not a lamentation over violence, for she still continues to behave violently in postwar times, but rather, a lamentation over that period of her life where she was capable of knowing how to get what she wanted, that is, the ideals she carried in her mind, the beliefs she fought for, and the faith she had in herself. Of all these, the postwar period provided nothing, and in every respect, there was a general feeling of depression, fragmentation and lack of integrity.
In this outstanding work, David Hare has successfully tried to reflect the social situation in postwar Britain through a real and individual setting. His motives were a mixture of personal commitment to his leftist beliefs, reflecting both on the need for political and social change, and at the same time, reflecting his anger and disappointment with the futility of British politics at the time. In other words, Plenty is concerned with two main issues, making it possible to state that “while Plenty embraces political issues on a public and private scale, the central concern is how the causes of postwar cultural fragmentation, disillusionment, and displacement interact with the effects.”
Hence, Plenty is not only a political play as one would expect of David Hare, but also a social play in which it is not difficult to notice the intertwining of the social and the political, of the economic and the personal, and of the individual and the collective. Plenty is therefore a play in which there is plenty of freedom and liberty, although these are not featured in the characters themselves, nor in their behaviors or even minds. It is a play that was made with a great degree of freedom, but a play in which characters were punished because they thought or acted freely, not in any way reflecting a theme of repression, but rather, condemning a status quo which has become a social as well as an individual burden, on the characters as well as on the audience.
Plenty is also a play that manifests to an extent the absurdity of life in the postwar period. Hare tries to show through his characters that there was a hopeless situation prevailing in England, and that in their struggle to do something, they were simply annihilated in silence. In other words, “Plenty reflects his ‘belief that people died literally in vain. That the upsurge of radical feeling in the war and post-war years was a genuine outcome of their experiences.’”
This feeling of worthlessness that is sensed in the characters is in itself an angry protest against the causes of this feeling. This makes Plenty sort of an angry yet repressed and aborted upheaval. This abortion is due to lack of courage in the individuals, and above all, to the lack of will which is noticed in almost all characters except in Susan, and in the end, of them all, she is the only one not to survive.
Nonetheless, these contradictions are also part of the identity crisis lived by the English in the postwar period. This apparently shows up in Susan’s conflicts about what she is, what she wants, and what she is up to. Her self-conflict is one that is manifested and lived by those who are in her situation, which means that “Hare portrays with eclectic theatricality and intelligent rhetoric British society’s attempts and failures to come to terms with its own identity.”
This disappointment that is repeatedly felt throughout the play has noted reflections on other major works. It is not difficult to find parallels between Hare’s Plenty and Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, since “both plays are rooted in the disappointed hopes of the immediate postwar years, in the pain of individuals who long for change but find it unforthcoming.”
Actually, Hare takes after Osborne, who in the words of Christopher Innes, “came to be widely acclaimed as the spokesman of angry youth with Look Back in Anger. Thus, Plenty can be seen to be in parallel with LookBack in Anger, since both plays are reflecting a state of dissatisfaction, not only on the political, economic and social levels, but also on the theatrical level.
Actually, the resemblance between Plenty and Look Back in Anger is not accidental. Plenty, in one way or another, expresses Hare’s identification with Osborne’s theater of anger and dissatisfaction. This can be seen in the resemblance between the characters of the two plays as well as in the symbolic events. Anger in both plays does not represent violent upheaval in as much as it represents protestation, both in connotation and denotation. Both plays are considered to be a protestation against the depression and the state of dissatisfaction that prevailed in post-war England; protesting against imperialism, the dominance of unproductive political power, merciless capitalism, and against the dissatisfactory social codes of the post-war period. Both plays are an attack against society and its impotent institutions, against the resistive structures which have made the new generation unable to develop. The insanity that Susan develops in Plenty illustrates the last curse that has been inflicted on the post-war generation, making them unable to do anything or to change their situation under the pressures and restrictions of the prevailing political and social systems.
The similarities are even deeper when the characters are compared. For example, the abortion Susan supports is similar to the abortion made by Alison, Jimmy’s wife in Look Back in Anger, both illustrating a feminist trend. Furthermore, even though the characters in both plays are entrenched in despair, some hope even if it is in insanity or in escape, a hope that is the only reason why struggle should continue, and why anger and protestation should persist.
Plenty is not contended with manifestation of dissatisfaction and depression because of the postwar depression. He even carries things to extremes, especially through the character of Susan which he uses successfully to reflect his personal dissatisfaction. Plenty, towards the end becomes so charged and loaded with dissatisfaction and futility to an extent where it poses insanity in its most depressing image; a liked woman who is so defeated, frustrated, and made futile, to the extent of losing her mind. Susan, as Mark H. Dady comments, “loses her sanity because of the discrepancy between the belief in a better society, which inspires the wartime fight against Fascism, and the betrayal of those ideals in a declining postwar Britain.”
Susan’s loss of sanity does not come up to the audience in a smooth manner. There is a clear parallelism that can be strongly felt between this eventual loss of sanity and the structure of the play. Plenty is made up of twelve scenes which are more of the episodic type, without clear cuts. Events of the first scene take place during Easter in 1962, a period that is highly depicted with political decline in Britain, especially after the Suez Canal failure in 1956 and the frustrating governmental performance during that period. Actually, the events in this scene are towards the end of the play, whereas the beginning, a flashback to the past will not start before scene two. Scenes two through ten all run smoothly in a chronological order, describing Susan’s life from 1943 to 1962. This long flashback is nothing but an explanation of the events and developments that had led in the end to scene one. Scene eleven is the only scene that chronologically comes after scene one, more specifically June 1962, when after leaving her husband, Susan encounters Lazar at last. The closing scene is another flashback to France in 1944, returning to the atmosphere of war, yet hope.
This lack of [scene a faire], obviously reflects the contradictions, feelings of loss, and the lack of balance in her mind as she no longer can come to grips with her situation, but at the same time, “The shape of the play…leaves Susan’s life still open to change and preserves the contradictions of the text, unanswered except in historical terms.”
The technique of slapstick is also noticed, although it is very limited in use. It becomes more apparent as Susan becomes more insane, particularly when she starts to act scandalously in public about her relationships and her sentiments on marriage and men. This is specifically seen when Susan says that she had married Brock because of a resemblance he had of her father, but then ironically and farcically adds, “At that point, of course, I didn’t realize just what a shit my father was.”
Another similar use of slapstick is apparent in the same scene when Susan comments on her relationship with men, when she openly wonders in front of her diplomatic guests about men and their worth, especially when she says, probably out of her insanity, “even for myself I do like to make a point of sleeping with men I don’t know. I do find once you get to know them you usually don’t want to sleep with them any more…”
The costumes are used in Plenty in a symbolic way. Alice, for example, is presented in Scene one as a woman who “wears jeans.” At the same time, Susan is always presented to be well-dressed up, even when she develops insanity, in a way, reflecting Hare’s sympathy and admiration, and at the same time, attracting this admiration rather than sympathy from the audience. After all, Hare did not intend to make his audience feel sympathetic in as much as he targeted their anger and feelings of dissatisfaction. In scene ten, Susan appears to be dressing in the same costumes she had on in scene one. This is symbolic, obviously meaning that she had returned to the point of start, and also signifying that a new round of developments was going to take place. More emphatically, the use of the same dress by Susan takes the audience back to scene one, to which scene ten is a direct continuation. In the last scene, however, Susan is not formally dressed up as the audience had gotten used to, but rather, she is “dressed like a young French girl, her pullover over her shoulder.”This means that in the course of her general dissatisfaction with her society, she finally decided to take off her formal dress, and to put on the dress of that situation which actually satisfied her in the beginning, namely, the French dress which reminded her of those days in France, when she was satisfied.
Music is not extensively used in Plenty, although Hare employs it effectively, at least twice. The first time is in scene six, when the setting stands in December 1952, “From the dark the sound of Charlie Parker and his saxophone” can be heard. No conversation is heard as the record plays, and the calmness of the night is strongly felt, preparing the audience for something to happen, which in the end turns out to be a self-confrontation by Susan about her dissatisfaction with her job in advertising, not to mention the hypocrisy of society. The second time music is used to influence the audience is in the opening of scene ten, which happens to be on Easter 1962, “From the dark the sound of some stately orchestral chords: Mahler, melodic, solemn.” Again, no conversation is heard before the music stops. Apparently, this music was intended to create a solemn atmosphere and a feeling of gloominess among the audience, especially as the last phase of the confrontation between Brock and Susan is about to be introduced, and as Susan is reaching her final stages of insanity.
Ten out of the twelve scenes in Plenty are in the dark. This is no coincidence at all, for Hare intended to make the audience feel uncomfortable and gloomy, in a way to reflect the predominating dissatisfaction in the play. It is apparent also that the use of darkness reflects on the fact that there is a feeling of despair among the individuals, especially Susan, not to mention the growing rot in society. However, the final scene is one where the sun is clear and which the Frenchman describes as “Indeed the day is fine.” The use of light in this scene signifies that Susan, although becoming insane, was actually aware of the sources of her insanity, which provokes the audience to understand that there is a feeling of dissatisfaction, and that there is an urge for change and anger. It is also important to point that in the midst of the darkness in the previous themes, only once did the darkness contain some hope for Susan, particularly at the closing of scene five when she sees the fireworks in the sky. At that point, she is discussing the possibility of conceiving from Mick to have her own child without being bound to marriage. To her, despite the night, she is able to see some light, and the dotted stars symbolize the same setting in which she meets Lazar for the first time in France. This is one of the moments when the audience start to feel that Susan is actually urging to the previous years when she was happier, especially when she says, “That’s what they call it. A mackerel sky.”
The flashback technique is seen as inevitable in Plenty, and Hare uses it successfully and effectively in order to clarify the ambiguities that arise, especially as the audience tries to link the events. It is noticed that flashback is used three times only; the first and the longest in scene two, and it continues through scene ten; the second in scene eleven when the audience is carried back to the present, and finally, the twelfth scene which is the flashback to the French battle grounds. Flashback in this sense is used more effectively than the common plot, since it enables the audience to interpret the events carefully, and at the same time, it enables the audience to evaluate the events and changes taking place through a cause-effect logic.
At the same time, this flashback technique used in Plenty has resulted in a fragmented structure of the play, as John Simon criticized in New York saying that “the fragmented, chronology-juggling construction remains [elucubrated].” Yet, it is exactly this feeling of fragmentation that Hare aimed to develop in his audience; a fragmentation among individuals; and a fragmentation prevailing the whole society.
Similarly, the same effect was intended with the way in which Hare engineers the opening and the ending of Plenty. The opening scene starts on Easter 1962, but apparently, there are indications of violence, especially accompanied by a sexual act. This is noticed from the fact that he, [Brock], lies naked on the ground while at the same time, he is covered in dried blood. It is only later on, in further scenes, and as the audience become acquainted with Susan’s violent nature, that they begin to realize what had happened, even though, indefinitely.
On the other hand, the ending scene is in August 1944, in France, which is eighteen years before the first scene. Although a flashback, this scene is in itself significant, since it takes place in Susan’s imagination, an imagination of an insane dreamer. At the same time, this scene, although the shortest in the play, carries the real message, since it interprets the reasons of Susan’s insanity. It is in this scene that the audience become fully aware of the sources of her dissatisfaction, and of what was actually urging her all those years, namely, her need to feel her existence the way she did when she was on the front in France.
Extremism in the Plenty Play:
Extremism is understandable in Hare’s works, especially as he is deeply involved in stressing the emotional crises and contradictions of his characters, an attitude towards the theatre that is very much opposed to Brecht, and which even classifies Hare as an anti-Brechtian playwright. According to Janelle Reinelt in her book After Brecht British Epic Theater, “While Brecht was afraid that identification of the characters’ subjective state would serve to dull judgement, to blur distinctions and thus leave the audience with a ‘culinary’ attitude, Hare believes that judgement comes from confronting the contradictions of the characters in moments of personal crisis and that ‘in the act of judging the audience learns something about its own values.’ Emotions and mood facilitate this understanding rather than block it.”
Hare himself comments on the influence that Brecht had on him, saying that he did not intend to follow the path of Brecht in as much as he needed to depart from Brecht. Hare’s intentions were to start an epic play that enjoyed freedom in movement and expression rather than the restricted theater than existed in Brecht’s time. He believes his play to be an attempt in which he was “trying to find a sort of English way to do epic plays – a way to create plays that moved about with total freedom in time and space…we wanted [something] different than Brecht.”
Nonetheless, similarities between Brecht and Hare are also detected, to the extent that Brecht’s influence is deeply seen in Hare’s Plenty, especially when it comes to the interrogatory treatments of individuals’ behavior and responsibility. Susan is held responsible for the failures of her class and society, and it is this very responsibility that echoes in Brecht’s Galileo and Mother Courage. In Plenty the same thematic value recurs, involving a clear projection of the Brechtian theater, as Susan ends up facing the “futility of trying to avoid the political consequences of personal action.” It is no coincidence therefore that the role of Susan in Plenty is compared to Maggie’s Mother Courage, and is considered to be one of the best roles designed by an actress since Mother Courage.
The resemblance between Susan and Mother Courage is very clear. Like in Plenty’s Susan, the sources of anger in Mother Courage are rooted in insanity, brutality, and human error, as listed by Robert Brustein in his book The Theater of Revolt, “…and in Mother Courage, heroic actions invariably stem either from stupidity, insanity, brutality, or simple human error.”
It is not possible to ignore Brecht’s influence on David Hare, especially that Hare has studied Brecht in depth, and it is only expected that Brecht’s controversial theater should have an immense influence on Hare, whether this influence in the end leads to conformity in Hare’s work with Brecht’s theater or not. Hare’s awareness of the Brechtian theater is acknowledged by Peter Ansorge who says that “Mr. Hare has studied Brecht and he has a social conscience.”
In this manner, and with Brecht’s influence, Plenty stands as a major development for Hare, much more energetic and extensive than Slag that was written eight years earlier in 1970, and constituting much deeper involvement of the characters in their settings which had become more realistic and actual. By contrasting the two plays, it becomes clear that “there is an element of the self-absorbed world of Slag, except that Susan’s fate is set against a background of real events, a deep involvement with culture.”
Susan, unlike the three women in Slag is more involved in the world around her. She represents something real, something that is happening to individuals and to society. Besides, Susan stands as a more successful representative of feminism, much more successfully that did the three women in Slag. This is despite the fact that feminism was an intended theme in Slag. Peter Ansorge comments on this fact saying that, “Although Slag provides a platform for a discussion of feminist views, which is frequently absent from our male-oriented theatres, the play lacks any genuine commitment to its central subject.”
The issues that David Hare raised in Plenty are indeed controversial, but not at all contradictory. David Hare was aware of the British theater of circumscription, and aware of the constraints that are imposed on the British theater, whether by society, audience, or other forces. Hare belonged to a generation of playwrights who wanted to start new dimensions in the theater, dimensions of freedom and liberty of expression, regardless whether they are seen to be shocking or not by society, as Anthony Curtis comments saying, “Mr. Hare has grown up in the period when our theater has been let out of the confines of the single-setting play in which Rattigan and the managements for which he wrote contained it…He is one of a number of comparatively young English Playwrights who have tried to introduce a more fluid kind of construction and have shown how a play may spread itself in time and space without losing concentration or depth.”
In the context of analyzing Plenty, the question that certainly poses itself with ultimate pressure is about the new themes that David Hare has presented. Obviously, Plenty deals with a situation that had lasted for over two decades. Hare’s commitment, however, to criticizing this situation, goes beyond doubt. Hare is aware that the consequences of the postwar fragmentation in the British society have not only haunted the postwar generations, but also the generations that followed, since these consequences have imposed long-lasting restrictions on the British society as well as on the British theater itself. In this sense, it is easy to read the differences between Plenty and previous works, especially Slag. In Slag, Hare failed to reach the depth of the situation because he was still uncertain of traits of the change that needed to take place in society or even in the theater. Slag was the product of a theater that was still moaning under the burdens of the postwar period. Plenty, on the other hand, was written by a mind that was detached from while at the same time involved in the consequences of the post-war period. It was written by a mind that was disillusioned by social and political hypocrisy that for more than two decades had haunted British politics and social life. It is this change in Hare’s thought that makes the difference between his two plays. This difference is considred by Ansorge to be “one of the most vital and unpredictable to be found in English contemporary drama.”
It is through Susan that David Hare represents his anti-capitalist thought and themes, by bringing her to direct confrontation with the same social and political restrictions and circumscription that had haunted the British theater. It is through Susan that he shows how an active and intelligent sane person could be driven insane by the futility of his or her mad society.
By presenting Susan as “an idealist who refuses to compromise with hypocrisy, frustrated by society’s resistance to change,” Hare gives the audience reason to sympathize with her principles, but then the audience is confronted with the fact that Susan repeatedly laments the days of the war period. This is contrast to Hare’s Licking Hitler, where the theme of war is negatively presented. Thus, “Susan Traherne, the main focus of attention in Plenty, goes through almost the opposite experience. Susan looks back on her war as the major positive experience of her life – it is her peace, the substance of the play in fact, which ruins her.”
Susan’s principles are by no means calling for war, but it is highly ironic that she does find her peace in the memories of war, that she finds herself as a fighter unable to survive in a civil but insane society, and that she is trying to fight the invisible deterioration of her values and principles in a society which is already rotten and fragmented. The positive meaning of the war in Susan’s mind is only related to the fact that it was during this war that Susan and people like her were able to apply their principles, their logic and their existence, ironically by exposing their very existence to death in the battlefield. Yet, at home, within the civil society where physical security was taken for granted, psychic and moral security were no longer there, and instead, they were replaced by a dramatic self-destructive urging for change that was rendered self-destructive because there was no outlet for it. Such an outlet was impossible for Susan to find, simply because it did not exist, since society was blocked with its incapacitating elements of deterioration and fragmentation that were taking over in the postwar society, economy and politics, all which were characterized by a futility that was a burden for individuals the like of Susan.
It is not the war itself that gave Susan her control over her existence, but rather, the moral conviction and satisfaction which accompanied the act of being involved in the war. The dissatisfaction is not with the war, but rather, with the futile civil peace. It is important to notice over and again that the audience are not given any reasoning or interpretation of what actually pushed Susan over the edge of insanity, until the last line, which ironically is read in the flashback setting of war, in the 1944 France, when Susan says to the Frenchman in the final scene, “My friend. There will be days and days and days like this.”
The meaning of this statement is obvious. It stands for hope in the midst of Susan’s despair, of sanity in the midst of her madness, and of resistance in the midst of her collapse. It is the only sentence which interprets the source of her discontent, dissatisfaction and frustration with the present. It is also the only sentence which bears in its words any hope for Susan, whether before or after she had gone insane.
Like Susan, Brock is another victim of the system. Yet, unlike her, he is victimized by the very system in which he was a cog-wheel, the same system which in the end came to grind all. Brock, as a servant in the Foreign Office has no principles except those which are assigned to him by the system. Yet, as the system itself was collapsing and rotting, Brock’s principles also went down with it. Brock’s ability to preserve his sanity, even though his career was ruined in the end, is the consequence of the fact that he was futile by default, just as the system was. Hence, he was not exposed to any mental or social pressures that would have gone away with his mind.
The same is detected in Alice who does not suffer when she is disillusioned about her free love philosophy. Actually, Alice does not suffer because she is too deeply involved in the superficial struggle in society to the extent that she can easily steer herself to the safety by changing sides or direction when her struggle does not work out. It is this contrast that makes her different from Susan, mainly by being capable of remaining sane.
Usually, logic seeks finding out why an individual like Susan had gone insane, but the irony in Hare’s Plenty is that it makes the audience wonder why the others had not gone insane too. Insanity is therefore the major concern that Hare and his audience are concerned about, and to a great extent, this is responsible for the success of the play.
Hare has also concerned himself with two other important themes, namely power and feminism. Power is ultimately a very important theme since this play deals with the deterioration of power on a number of levels; the power of the state, the power of society, and most important of all, the power of the individual. Feminism, on the other hand, remains a controversial issue in Plenty, especially as critics still argue whether the play was actually intended to express a positive stand of feminism or not.
Echoes of Power and Feminism in the Play:
In Plenty, it is not difficult to feel the echoes of power and feminism, especially as the play is so much soaked in politics and as the main protagonist is a woman. The play can, therefore, be seen to have two dimensions at the same time, the first dealing with power and the other dealing with feminism. Both themes tend to intertwine, especially as Susan’s character degenerates towards insanity and self-destruction.
Manifestations of power are felt throughout the play, almost in every scene and every move of the characters. Hare himself, being a political playwright may not have intended Plenty, to be political, but it certainly tends to be so in the end, especially as he deals with the overall changes in the socio-political settings of Britain in the degeneration period of the 1950s and 1960s.
The two decades covered by Plenty reflect at least two major political aspects that need to be highlighted. The first was the return of warriors to their homes, only to find out that the idealism with and for which they had fought was no longer relevant to their society. Such a situation was only capable of bringing these veterans to conflict with the social and political authorities that reigned in their countries. Secondly, the play deals with the political degeneration of the British Empire that before the war ruled almost half the world, but was by then shrinking in size and influence. The Suez Canal incidence takes a critical dimension in Plenty as it represents the failure of British diplomacy, and at the same time, reflecting a devastating impact on British diplomats and society. The Suez Canal is symbolized in this play to represent the collapse of British diplomacy and the futility of British politics, specifically under Eden and later Wilson. As Mark Dady comments, “Susan’s confident vision and subsequent disappointment with a society which did not become more just and democratic also reflects some of Hare’s own expectations and disillusionment with regard to the Harold Wilson government of 1964, which doomed so many left-wing playwrights to spending their lives in dissent.”
A conflict of power and politics is evidently clear in Plenty, especially as dissent and lack of control tend to prevail among the characters and in the general atmosphere of the play. Susan and Brock are both lost; they feel that they have lost control. Susan is continuously obsessed with the war years when she had the power over her mission and life, that is, when she felt she was doing something. Similarly, Brock during the war was an active member of the British diplomacy, representing the British power and working for it. In the postwar period, this power was degenerating, and with it came the inevitable degeneration of its members. Dady further comments that “Never after the war does Susan regain the certainty of purpose which she possessed during the 1940s when she knew what she was fighting for and believed in a better world to come; her marriage to a civil servant at the foreign office takes her into a world of lies and hypocrisy.”
In Plenty, it is not difficult to encounter manifestation of power and authority at various levels, but what is more common is encountering the lack of such power, especially at the individual and social level. Failures of such manifestation are common because of futility and the lack of courage in individuals to probe their own feelings and minds. In support of this point, Ludlow argues that “It is the common lack of such courage, the general refusal to give vent to one’s feelings and speak one’s mind, that is implicitly suggested to be the cause of the stagnation in society which is at the root of Susan’s pain.”
Obviously, Susan does have a lot of energy and a sincere need to enjoy and practice her power. The disappointment and frustration is that she cannot, simply because she does not know how or where to direct this energy, “there is nowhere she can direct her energy when surrounded by people who stoically accept their situation.” This creates a force which is resistive to and inhibiting of individual power, a force which inevitably reflects on society since its source is the overall depressed postwar period.
Yet, at the same time, Susan does imply the use of power, since she has the capability of utilizing and exploiting others to achieve certain ends in her mind. She has a strong character who is capable of practicing power, even to a ruthless extent. Being ideal, she even utilizes violence in order to practice power and authority, as she does when she threatens to shoot if the Frenchman did not leave the drop, “Si vous ne me le donnez pas…”
Susan is therefore the most likely of the characters in Plenty to practice power, even though is not capable of doing so. Her personal traits; strength, self-confidence and mental ability; all make her a candidate for such a manifestation. This is consistent with the view Christopher Innes develops of Susan saying that “…it is also possible to view her as a ruthless manipulator of others, made incapable of intimacy or self-fulfillment by attitudes which, however necessary for survival in occupied France – are destructive in a normal context.”
Nevertheless, this only means that while she is the only who is capable, on the individual level, to manifest and practice power, this ability is incapacitated and rendered obsolete on the social level, a fact which in the end leads to her futility and depression, not to mention insanity.
It is wondered here whether choosing a female role for the protagonist was actually related to the theme of power or not. Obviously, Susan was capable of manifesting and practicing power, but she did not, mainly because she was impeded by the social rot around her. Hare’s choice of a female is not therefore incidental, but goes without saying as a tradition that he has followed in his previous plays. According to Carol Homden in her book The Plays of David Hare, “David Hare is not interested in women in and for themselves, but uses them to provide a moral distance on events over which they have not power.”
A question related to power that casually imposes itself at this stage is the nature of Susan herself. She had served on the front, and thus, she is aware of the duties that she had towards military authority. What kind of authority was she to handle when she returned home? She was a fighter in the sense that she was doing something; killing the enemies, liberating Europe, securing lives, or whatever. But upon returning home, what could she do but watch over the flag of the British Empire as it disappeared from more territories every year? What else could she do but try to assert her idealism against the morbid social futility that she found herself stuck in at the end? She had one of two choices; coping with futility, regardless the personal and intellectual loss involved; or revolting against her society, and with this, she would either win the war or end up destroyed, which she did in the end, as she herself became unable to handle her own power or that of society. Susan does not admit her insanity. She only admits that she was lacking in power and control, especially over herself, even though she does not bear a feeling of guilt for doing so, given that it is the consequence of her beliefs in the kind of social setting she lived in, when she tells Lazar in their final meeting, “I have to tell you I’ve not always been well. I have a weakness. I like to lose control. I’ve been letting it happen, well, a number of times.”
Susan admits that she was no longer willing to fight or to continue, partly because of her ‘weakness.’ She admits that she had given everything up, including her urge for power, control, self-assertiveness and struggle. Yet, this sounds self-contradictory, for the means she had chosen, that is, living alone, is in itself a manifestation of her power, over herself, her body, and to a lesser extent, over her fate, as she admits to Lazar, “I’ve stripped away everything, everything I’ve known. There’s only one kind of dignity, that’s in living alone. The clothes you stand up in, the world you can see…”
This is a declaration of disobedience against all social values and instruments of power exerted by society and its subjects or institutions. It is a declaration of freedom, regardless the fact that it was made by an insane rebel, a declaration that she was actually denouncing the ability of social power to bring her under control. Ironically, this declaration was made in front of Lazar, the same man she met twenty years ago. She tells him, “I’d rather not look at you. It’s an element of risk which we really don’t need to take. In my experience it is best, it really is best if you always obey the rules.”
Susan’s coming to grips with authority, which in itself was a challenge to her power, started the moment she came to report the death of her lover Tony at the embassy. In that same incident when she meets Brock, she realizes that he too is dissatisfied with the unpleasantness of his position in power and authority. The feeling the audience feel is that the state, especially in the Foreign Office, which is supposed to be representing power and authority at the highest levels, is rotting and degenerating, as Brock expresses saying, “The misery is contagious, I suppose. You spend your day driving between bombsites, watching the hungry, the homeless, the bereaved…And it is all very odd to watch it all from here.”
Susan’s encounter and dissatisfaction with authority is even more pressing when she returns home. In her office, she is faced by the unpleasantness of the job, and by morbidity of the work authority. She feels like she is in a prison, besieged within the walls of the offices, but worst of all, besieged within the routine, a feeling which can be sensed in her words when she cries out, “I want to move on. I do desperately want to feel I’m moving on. I work so hard I have no time to think. The office is worse. Those brown invoices go back and forth, import, export…”
Susan thinks that she can overcome this power simply by leaving her job and getting married to Brock. She would later on return to the authority of work, but only to find herself more dissatisfied, especially as she criticizes the hypocrisy of this authority, since in advertising, she has to lie in order to make her living. Ironically, she confesses this in anger when she wonders asking, “Some rotten shoe I have to advertise. What is the point? Why do I exist?”
In her discontent with power and authority of work and employers, Susan begins to reveal her dissatisfaction with the social situation, that situation where she has to put on another face, denying her values and even her self-value, especially when she puts herself in the feet of her employers saying, “We will spend the next twenty years of our lives pretending to be thick. ‘I’m sorry Miss Traherne, we’d like to employ you, but unfortunately you are not stupid enough.’”
It is this very statement she makes that reveals how grave the conflict between Susan and power had reached.
With Brock, Susan has to deal with more forms of power and authority, such as money and the Foreign Office. Susan did not need to worry about money and finance, since her marriage to Brock was a time when he was making a lot of money, a reality about which he brags saying, “I find it immoderately easy to acquire. I seem to have a sort of mathematical gift. The stock exchange. Money sticks to my fingers I find.”
However, what Brock relates to as a mathematical gift is nothing but the power of money standing on his side. The moment this power lets him down as his position becomes awkward in the Foreign Office, their marriage also comes to an end, not necessarily because of the lack of money, but certainly under the pressures of power and authority, whether from society or other sources, all which contributed in the end to Susan’s loss of sanity and stability. Lacking money itself was a problem in the sense that it cornered Susan in a situation where she had to cope with more restrictions, especially those imposed upon her by her financial situation and the demands of her husband, particularly when he complains saying, “I told her this morning…we’ll have to sell the house. I’m sure we can cope in a smaller sort of flat. Especially now we don’t have to entertain.”
Later on, Susan would even denounce the power that Brock had on her, and that she was even dissatisfied with this marriage, which in effect, is the last manifestation of authority practiced on her. She scandalously announces to her guests saying, in a moment of madness, “I married him because he reminded me of my father…At that point, of course, I didn’t realize just what a shit my father was.”
Obviously, at this stage she was becoming mad, but this did not prevent her from knowing the realities of what was going on around her, particularly those realities that were directly related to the abuses practiced by power and authority. She does not only lament over her inability to cope with power, but also over the neglected funeral of Darwin, which she considers was an avenging act by the Foreign Office, particularly when she states to her guests that, “He spoke his mind over Suez. In public. He didn’t hide his disgust. A lot of people never forgave him for that.”
In this sense, Susan was actually showing sympathy to or even identifying with Darwin because he had defied the power of the state over him. In her situation, she was defying every kind of authority upon her. This lamentation comes at the same time when she is actually lamenting the power and authority she was exposed to during the war, that time when she lived her real self, when she had life at stake, but then, she knew what she wanted and she was capable of achieving it. This is very apparent in her enthusiastic and passionate words describing her involvement in the war, when she says, “You believed in the organization. You had to. If you didn’t, you would die.”
This is of course in sharp contrast with the authority and power practiced by and manifested at the Foreign Office. If Darwin had been ignored, it is because he had neglected tact and spoken his mind. What Sir Andrew calls tact and diplomacy is what Susan fears most, that is, the death of thought under the hammer of power and authority. She courageously, or perhaps naively confronts him with this reality asking him, “Sir Andrew, do you never find it in yourself to despise a profession in which nobody may speak their mind?”
The truth is that Susan is aware of the consequences of such a profession and of such a repression of the mind by such a power and authority, but at the same time, she is not aware of the rot that is going inside in the structure of this authority. It is only very ironically that Sir Andrew himself has to explain it to her, although too late, when he points out saying, “The irony is this: we had an empire to administer, there were six hundred of us in this place. Now it’s to be dismantled and there are six thousand. As our power declines, the fight among us for access to that power becomes a little more urgent, a little uglier perhaps. As our influence wanes, as our empire collapses, there is little to believe in. Behavior is all.”
Echoes of power, especially reflected through Susan, are frequently but controversially considered as echoes of feminism. Whether David Hare intended this play to stand for feminism or not is not clear, especially that he has frequently utilized female figures in his plays to represent his views and beliefs, but what is certainly clear is that Plenty can by no means be a feminist manifesto, even though, to a great extent, it does reflect various feminist views. Yet, since these views are mainly expressed in situations that are soaked in depression and futility, both which characterize Susan, the feminist perspective of the play becomes ambiguous or even distorted. There are many instances where feminism can be strongly felt, especially through echoing in Susan’s acts and actions. Christopher Innes points out these facts when he says, “she pays for a young girl’s abortion. And the only mothers seen in the play are unmarried, social rejects to whom she offers her empty house as a communal home.”
While these facts are all manifestations of feminism and feminist thought, it is important to note out the fact that they are acts of futility, springing out of despair and absurdity. Susan acts likewise more because she is frustrated and feeling empty, more because she is living in a state of failure where she is unable to control her situation. Feminism is in itself a doctrine of female control and outmaneuvering restrictions, yet, in Plenty, such an action is lacking, rendering the play inefficient as a representative or manifestation of feminist thought or activity. The female figure in Plenty is more on the resistive and actually defeat side, rather than on the attack or winning side, a parallel to the situation of women in Slag, Dady comments on this saying that “Hare has consistently depicted the existing order as resistant, rather than susceptible to attack. Slag, for example showed the failure of three women in a girl’s school to establish an alternative society.”
David Hare, however, clarifies his position with women more than a decade later when he expresses that he did not believe that women were ‘better’ than men. Actually, the word ‘better’ used in this context is more related to passivity rather than the scale of good and evil, and as Hare himself states, “It’s not that I believe that women are better than men, because I don’t necessarily. I think that this is a nineteenth-century idea tied up with powerlessness.”
It is in this context that Hare raises Susan above the good-evil scale and then throws her within the setting of power and powerlessness. Susan is presented as the intelligent woman of her time, a woman with a varied experience, who had been in the war, who knows what she wants, who is capable of detecting what is wrong around her, and who is trying to change the status quo. One remarkable evaluation of Susan’s almost-heroic character is cited in Oliva’s David Hare: Theatricalizing Politics, “Her energy, her clear-sighted analysis of the hypocrisy and unproductiveness of her generation, her genuine longing to recover the experience of her youth – these attributes represent an almost-heroine.” It is these personal traits and characteristics that carry Susan to the level of a heroine, a heroine who is also a feminist in the sense that she supports abortion as a means of woman’s liberty over her body, and in the sense that she supports the economic and personal independence of women in their right to choose the way they want to live. However, Susan never becomes the heroine she is expected to be. She ends frustrated, depressed, and even destroyed with her insanity. Susan also reflects the traits of a tragic heroine, since she strives to the end, never giving up, and never letting in to the social depression and futility around her. However, this view is made controversial as Susan ends up insane. The controversy is whether she was humiliated with this insanity or not, whether she was defeated or not. In this context, the conflict over identity and power is brought up again, although within a heroic and a feminist setting, as Oliva further points out, that “Hare reveals how identity is affected by morality, corruption, religion, capitalism, repression, and the desire for power.”
Therefore, Susan is stripped off her heroic traits as she becomes a symbol of futility and failure, but again, the tragic sense is maintained as she is held responsible for her situation. However, it is extremely important at this level to point out that while Susan did go insane as she stood responsible for the consequences of her thoughts and behaviors, she was never humiliated. She became insane but at the same time, preserved her sense of dignity, which enables her to preserve the sense of being a tragic heroine, as she tells Lazar, “There’s only one kind of dignity, that’s in living alone.”
Susan is a responsible woman; responsible for her life, her adventures, her ability to manipulate and shock people, and her ability to resist what she does not want or like in society. However, her responsibility, like her character, is limited by social and personal restrictions which prevent her from achieving the liberty she craves for. What she gets instead, is a sense of freedom that is mould with insanity, a sense of freedom that is mixed with hope coming from a hopeless woman. This extreme discrepancy between what is expected and what is achieved, between what is hoped for and what is realized, and between what is supposed to be and what ends up to be in the end, can be seen as a failure that is worth contemplation. This is in consistence with the views presented by Stanley Weintraub when he argues that, “In the end, her idealism, expressed as it is through the extreme behavior, ruins her husband, and the audience is left to ponder a woman of the best potential achieving only the worst.”
Thus, feminism in Plenty seems to turn out to be both depressed and futile. Here, there is a woman who is trying to be a feminist, who is trying to represent the feminist cause, and who is trying to assert her role as a woman. Yet, she ends up achieving nothing of what she hoped for, and much worse than she would have expected. Contradiction echoes at this level, especially as to whether Hare was actually insinuating the collapse of feminism or not, especially as Susan’s failure could seem to be at the individual level at first. Actually, feminism in Plenty, did collapse, but not because of its political cause, but due to its linkage to the legacy of the postwar period. Everything was collapsing on the political, social and individual levels. Feminism was only part of what was collapsing.
Plenty cannot and should not be perceived as a failure when tapping the subject of feminism, for it is the failure and the hopelessness conveyed in this play that is actually intended. Thus, the failure of Susan as a feminist figure is only reflecting and symbolizing the reality of feminism and its social surrounding. Susan’s collapse in the end, though fluctuating between the personal and the social levels, asserts this view as it keeps pulling the audience back to the individual reality as part of the social reality. Ronald Hayman comments on this stating that “Her freedom from inhibition, her determination, and her outspokenness are self-defeating and destructive, but she seems not only more courageous but more admirable than anyone else in the play.”
Despite her degeneration and insanity in the end, Susan cannot be overlooked as a feminist figure. She is a woman who feels a dramatic but real need for liberty and freedom. She wants to live her life the way she wants, and above all, to have a child without the father. She wants to realize her existence and to practice self-assertiveness by making her own options, rebellious as they are, without having to suffer any imposition from her society. She frankly tells Mick, “I’m afraid that I’m rather strong-minded, as you know, and so with them I usually feel I’m holding myself in for fear of literally blowing them out of the room. They are kind, they are able, but I don’t see…why I should have to compromise, why I should have to make some sad and decorous marriage just to have a child. I don’t see why any woman should have to do that.”
In this context, Susan carries herself to extreme ends when she attacks the male control of female life. She attacks the sexual norms of society, and the fact that a woman as a wife is nothing than an exporter of free and guaranteed sex to her husband. In her decision not to do the same, she is asserting the feminist attitude of demanding woman’s freedom over her fate, and of her equality in wanting or not wanting a child, as well as in her full freedom to get married or not. She simply tells Mick, though with a manner that was not intended to be insulting to him personally, “…they are frightened of the unknown, they want a quiet life where sex is either sport or duty but absolutely nothing in between, and they simply would not agree to sleep with me if they knew it was a child I was after.”
The fact that she picks Mick, the working-class member, to sleep with her and make her pregnant is not to be taken as a shocking proposal, though to a great extent it is, but as a feminist action against the restrictive and inhibiting norms of society. She also carries this challenge against social norms and traditions to the extent that she believes that change is inevitable, especially with respect to the way in which the British society perceives social change. She takes this change for granted when she comments on the fact that her child would be a bastard, “Being a bastard can’t be like this forever.”
She carries her feminist concepts with her even when she was reaching the limits of becoming mad. Actually, since her madness is the result of the degeneration around her, part of which is related to the status of women, she continues to look back in anger at this degeneration, and yet, with a more angry tone, she expresses her rebellious spirit in public, and in a scandalous and careless manner, saying, “…even for myself I do like to make a point of sleeping with men I don’t know. I do find once you get to know them you usually don’t want to sleep with them any more…”
This statement reveals the fact that Susan is conscious of her feminist attitude and beliefs, even at that point where she was becoming mad and insane. In another feminist manifestation, Susan adopts a clear position towards the issue of abortion. Shortly earlier, she has been urging for a child without having to keep the father, but now she is engaged in funding an abortion. She simply hands the cheque to Dorcas without any feelings of guilt, and she carelessly tells her, “Kill a child. That’s easy. No problem at all.”
Hare further extends the feminist representation in Susan to the extent that he makes her invade the red-lines of the foreign service. Susan takes on herself the responsibility of facing Charleson, her husband’s boss about the fact that Brock had not been promoted. She takes the freedom to invade the foreign service with self-confidence and even a latent aggressiveness, when she speaks to Sir Andrew, “I’ve come to ask exactly what my husband’s prospects are.”
Here, a contradiction arises in the feminist traits of Susan. Her main aim of her visit to Charleson was to assert her feminist attitude, to support her husband, and to play a critical role in the development of her family. She was simply trying to resist those forces that were growing against her and her husband, the foreign service being one of them. Her visit was a corrective one, aiming at reviving the prospects of her husband. She goes there, assisted with an experience in the foreign service domain, and at the same time, assisted by her self-confidence and personal wit. She is doing what is expected of any wife, but at the same, in proportions that exceed the limits of this role. This is apparent in her conversation with Sir Andrew when she says, “I do understand the foreign service now. I know that my husband could never ask himself. Your business is conducted in a code, which it’s considered unethical to break. Signs and indications are all you are given. Your stock is rising, your stock is falling…”
Yet, all this constructed success of a feminist Susan is crushed by the walls of reality, and the deconstruction is ultimately felt especially when Brock’s career is ruined as a result of Susan’s visit to Charleson, not to mention the fact that her madness also contributed to this ruin.
Similarly, Susan fails to get the child she urged for from Mick. This failure could be perceived as a failure of feminist objectives and attitudes, but it can also signify the fact that feminism is unable to assert itself, views and attitudes in a society that is so restrictive. The independence and freedom that Susan wished to earn from men has failed, partly because of her personal and mental deterioration, and partly because of society’s futility. Carol Homden comments on this fact when she points out that “the efforts of Mick and Susan to conceive are shown to have failed – Susan’s independence of men and of their establishment has failed.”
This collapse and madness, the mess in which Susan finds herself is not a declaration of failure of feminism, but rather, it is an objective that was intended by itself. The primary objectives of Plenty, that is, resistance to social and individual degeneration could have been achieved through a male character. Yet, David Hare uses a woman. The logic behind using a female rather than a male character serves two goals at the same time. First of all, it provides Hare with the ability to reflect on the cause of feminism, and secondly, it enables him to create a more expressive and emotional outburst of the realities which he wanted to assert in his play. According to Homden, “Women are, for Hare, a way to contextualize his own pain: they are surrogate men, as he almost confesses when he says, ‘I find women’s attitudes after the neuroses and hang-ups of male society a tremendous relief.’”
If this means anything, it simply means that Hare did not intend to use Susan’s insanity as a symbolic deterioration and eventual collapse of feminism, but rather, he intended to use it as an objective. The cause and effect relationship in this sense is reversed, and her failure is thus used as a criticism of society’s futility and degeneration. Yet, in effect, Susan becomes insane because she is one sane individual living among the mad many. It is this situation, bearing in mind that she is not capable of asserting her beliefs in society, that in the end leads to her madness. She is simply the victim of a process of silencing all those who came up against the status quo, but at the same time, victimization, as it is imposed upon her, does not mean that she was wrong. Homden summarizes the situation when she says that “Dissent is not allowed and those who make too much noise are silenced.”
Apparently, Susan had gone mad because of her inability to assert and practice her beliefs in society. This does not mean that something was wrong with her beliefs, nor does it mean that her belief were in the wrong time or place. The society Hare is criticizing is one that had become so restrictive and negative to the extent that it was driving its sane members insane. It is argued that Susan became insane because of the futility of her revolutionary life within her bourgeois society as Janelle Reinelt wonders in her book, After Brecht British Epic Theater, “To what extent is she a spoiled member of her class, enacting typical bourgeois rebellion with no social consequences?”
Nonetheless, Susan should not be considered or seen as the ‘spoiled’ bourgeois who carried the seeds of her own destruction within herself. She was a fighter, a war survivor who was trying to continue her fight back at home, but this time not against the destructive weapons of her enemies, but rather, against the futility of her society. It is not her bourgeois values that she was trying to live on, but rather, the need to overcome the futile situation of the British society. This is asserted by Hare himself when he says, “I do believe that people do go clinically mad if what they believe bears no relation to how they live.”
Hare’s objective was not to merely support feminism. He also intended to criticize society. He was also concerned with the realities of society, and since Plenty is concerned with realities since it bears a realistic setting in a realistic and relevant time and space, Hare had to devise other techniques whereby he could achieve all his objectives at the same time. It is in this sense that Susan is driven mad in the end; that she is posed as a victim or as a defeated idealist. This victimization is used in the context of criticism of social hypocrisy and weakness. Feminism, like other revolutionary movements and devices of social change are not working, not because they are futile, but because nothing is surviving in the male-dominant society of England. Alice does not go insane as her friend did, but she was also frustrated, and her free-love philosophy does not stand or survive the futility of society and its resistance to change and development. Homden points out the irony when she writes, “The survivors are not the women, Alice (like Anna in Licking Hitler) implicitly admits the failure of her own position by turning instead to helping the young victims of her free love philosophy – unmarried mothers of whom Dorcas is the inadequate representative within the play.”
In conclusion, whether David Hare has achieved his objectives behind Plenty, or not, it is impossible to ignore the fact that Plenty is by all means the best of his works, especially with the thematic values and representations which it poses. It is also impossible to ignore the fact that this play stands as a turning point in the British theater since it poses as a protestation against the theater of circumscription with all its constraints and restrictions. Plenty is an outburst of anger of a woman driven mad by an insane society, a society that constitutes a system, a system which is demobilized and turned inapt and rotten by the degeneration of its elements, members and authorities. This play is a manifestation of power as it has gone out of control, and of authority as it has lost its dignity. It is a play which rejects the status quo in the postwar period, calling for urgent change, and warning that defeat in the civil society is not impossible after victory in war, for the war period was survived with the survival of dignity and principles, whereas the civil period lacks both. Echoes of feminism are frequently heard in this play, even though the manifestations of feminist thought in Plenty tend to be controversial, though not contradicting. If Plenty, stands for anything, it stands for a talent that was accompanied by rage and emotional injection of protestation, depression, satisfaction and frustration.
Dady, Mark H. . (ed). International Dictionary of Theatre I. Chicago & London: St. James Press,1992, p.623.
Rich, Frank. “David Hare.” In Jean Stine & Daniel Marowski (eds.). Contemporary Literary Criticism, vol. 29. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1985, p.217.
 Ansorge, Peter. “David Hare: A war on Fronts,” Plays and Players, April, 1978, p.16.
 Oliva, Judy Lee. David Hare: Theatricalizing Politics. Michigan: Anne Arbor, 1990, p.78.
 Innes, Christopher. Modern British Drama (1890-1990). New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992, p.208.
 Oliva, Judy Lee. David Hare: Theatricalizing Politics. Michigan: Anne Arbor, 1990, p.154.
Ludlow, C. “Hare and Others.” London Magazine, July 1978, p.76.
 Innes, Christopher. Modern British Drama (1890-1990). New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992, p.104.
 Mahfouz, Issam. Death of the Playwright of Curses.” Al-Nahar Newspaper. Saturday, January 21, 1995, p.17.