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Both plays portray women as very independent people. In “Men Should
Weep”, Maggie is the main female character. She is a housewife living
in a male dominated society. The main theme of the play is her journey
form oppressed housewife to self-empowered women.
Whereas in “Perfect Days” Barbs the main female character is an
extremely independent woman from the start and has worked hard to earn
herself her own hairdressers.
Maggie’s husband John is a very self-centred character; he doesn’t
have a job or any notion to ever help around the house. Yet he thinks
that is perfectly acceptable. Due to the way society was in that day
and age then it said that once a woman wedded they automatically
became their husband’s property. This meant that they had no choice
but to obey their husbands every demand. What they said went.
“I’d an idea a wis heid o this hoose”
This demonstrates that even though John doesn’t contribute to the
family he still feels he is superior to them all. Maggie takes this
though she doesn’t argue with him as she believes that he is head of
the household and she constantly stands up for him.
Lily, Maggie’s independent single sister is very much against men she
thinks ‘there aw dirty beasts’. As she argues with Maggie about John
but Maggie straight away stands up for her husband.
“You leave John alane! He does his best for us”
Even though Maggie knows John doesn’t do anything for her and her
children she still stands strongly by her husband as that was the
right thing to do.
Not only does Maggie have her husband to run around after her and look
after her, but she also has five children.
“If you’ve got wee ans, you’ve got tae put up wi the fella that gie’d
The women in the play are constantly making excuses for the men and
their behaviour. Maggie is particularly bad at doing this. This is a
prime example of this behaviour as Mrs Bone her neighbour gets
domestically abused and this is Maggie’s attempt to offer her support.
As the play progresses Maggie gradually starts to see sense and comes
to realise how weak men really are.
“They canna staun up tae things like a wummen”
This shows female strength and is the start of a major turning point
for Maggie as she becomes more and more disenchanted with her life.
Jenny, Maggie’s eldest daughter runs of at the beginning of the play
but returns at the end with money and the opportunity for Maggie and
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John’s requests. For Maggie this is a moment of self-discovery she can
have the control of her own life now.
“I can manage him ….. I can aye manage him”
This is a very revealing line as it reveals that there is hope for
things to change and get better. She is an independent woman.
Whereas Barbs the main female character in “Perfect Days” is a very
independent woman from the beginning of the play. She is financially
independent due to her success in hairdressing. Spending her time
between TV appearances and doing celebrities hair. A well grounded,
hard working, strong woman. But don’t be fooled she may seem to have
everything but she doesn’t. She wants a baby.
Barbs has three male figures in her life Brendan her gay best friend,
Davie her unreliable ex-husband and Grant her ‘toyboy’ 14 years her
junior. Although Barbs doesn’t rely on any of them she still needs
them to be there. Essentially the only reason she needs a man in her
life is to reproduce.
“I tell him no need for precautions I’ve got a coil which is a lie but
he doesn’t need to know”
This portrays the men as naïve, thoughtless easy to manipulate
characters. As Barbs sees them only in a chemical light due to their
only use to her being to reproduce. Due to Barbs unsuccessful attempts
to have a baby she ends up turning to Brendan who offers to donate his
sperm in a bid to artificially conceive a baby.
Whilst Brendan and Barbs are trying to conceive a baby, Barbs is
secretly having a fling with grant. Who very much believes he loves
Barbs. But Grant and Brendan don’t know about each others affairs with
Barbs. And when it the truth is revealed it ends in Grant asking
“Why are you so ashamed of me”
Barbs is an independent woman, who doesn’t want a man in her life she
just wants some fun but Grant mistakes this for something more and
falls in love with her.
As the play comes to an end Barbs, Mum Sadie passes away but at the
same time there’s some good news.
“I’m Pregnant . . . . . I want my mother”
Finally Barbs has the baby she wanted but at the same time she lost
someone she loved dearly.
In conclusion the representation of the women in the two Scottish
plays I have studied show that women don’t need men to survive, that
sometimes you’re just better off without them.
I feel that the representation of women in both plays reflect real
women and the issues that are dealt with are ones that still reoccur
“Ena Lamont Stewart” the writer of “Men should Weep” really made her
play highlight poverty and how bad it was, also the way that women
were treated. Sadly this is something that a lot of women can still
relate to. I feel that she was successful in doing this and showing
what effects a male dominated society can have.
“Liz Lochead” the writer of “Perfect Days” really expressed that women
can be independent. That woman can make their own way in life and be
just as successful as men if not even more.