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BEGE-142: Understanding Drama

BEGE-142: Understanding Drama

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

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Assignment Code: BEGE–142/TMA/2022-23

Course Code: BEGE–142

Assignment Name: Understanding Drama

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Max. Marks: 100

Answer all questions.


Section A


Write short notes in about 200 words each: 2 × 5 = 10


(i) Greek Theatre

Ans) In ancient Greece, plays were put on in amphitheatres, which had a round stage and a crowd that was about three quarters of the way around it. Since amphitheatres were very big and could hold a lot of people, it was hard to see the actors from far away. To make up for this, actors spoke in a loud, booming voice, wore masks and symbolic costumes, and made big gestures. In ancient drama, the chorus was a very important part. It was meant to say something about the play and to warn and advise the characters. The scenery on stage was neutral, and the real scenery around the amphitheatre added to the effect. Plays were put on during the day. Ancient Greek drama was usually performed at special events, like religious ceremonies, and had a more ritualistic, symbolic, and educational purpose. Only free men were allowed to attend; slaves and women were not allowed.


The theatre at Epidaurus is a Greek-style open-air theatre, with seats carved into the side of a hill. The large dancing circle, or orchestra, for the chorus is the most noticeable part of the theatre. One of the passageways, called parodoi, is on the right side. It gives the chorus and processions a way to get in and out. In the back are the ruins of the skene, a stone building that was used as a stage set. It could be a temple or a palace, and it was always there as a backdrop for plays. Later, the Romans made more changes to the Greek theatre. The stage, or acting area, was lowered by a few feet but got deeper. The front of the stage lost its colonnade but got a very decorated facade, and the orchestra was no longer a full circle.


(ii) Three Unities

Ans) There are three things that are always the same: action, place, and time. The unity of action means that the action in a play should be similar to what happens when the play is staged. The unity of place means that the action should take place in only one place, and the unity of time means that the play should only take two or three hours to perform. Place and time were often broken, so they stopped being necessary. Aristotle stressed how important it was to keep some kind of unity in action. He said that this unity had to be organic and couldn't be supported by making one person the plot's centre and cause. It assumes that there shouldn't be any important side plots in serious plays and that tragedy and comedy shouldn't be mixed. But these two ideas caused a lot of debate, and as time went on, comedy and tragedy blended together in a way that made sense. Laughter and tears were close together because comedy and tragedy were not so different that they should be treated separately.


Unity of place and time limits the length of time and location of a play's dramatic action to one place and time. It's true that the unities can't be used in some plays, but just as drama is a way to focus life, a certain amount of restriction helps the dramatist a lot with his job. In every great drama, there is an idea, and the whole structure of the drama comes from how the actions fit together and how important the characters are.

Section B


Explain with reference to the context in 300 words each. 3 X 10 = 30


(i) ‘Chris…Chris, I did it for you, it was chance

And I took it for you. I’m sixty one years

old, when would I have another chance to make

something for you?

Ans) The above lines are taken from ‘All My Sons’ by Joe Keller. Keller tells him that he can't go to the factory because he has the flu. He asks him to weld the cylinder heads and promises Deever that he will take full responsibility for the damaged cylinder heads. Twenty-one planes crash because of these broken cylinder heads, killing the pilots of those planes. Both Deever and Keller are arrested and found guilty, but at the trial, Joe Keller says he wasn't the one who did it, so he is cleared, and Steve Deever is sent to prison. This sad event is at the centre of most of what happens in the play.


Keller says the above lines. Three years later, when Ann comes to the Keller house to marry Chris Keller, she upsets what seems to be the harmony of the house. Things get worse at the Keller house when Ann's brother and Steve Deever's son, George, comes to stop Ann from getting married to Chris. Even though Larry went missing in action during the war, Kate thinks he is still alive. Because she believes this, she has been able to help her husband, Joe Keller, commit a crime for three years without telling anyone what she knows. George tells the truth: Keller was the main person to blame for the deaths of twenty-one pilots, and his father is in jail because of it. Chris asks Keller if his father is guilty, and Keller says that he made the decision to send faulty cylinder heads to the army so that he could keep his business going and take care of his family. Joe Keller tries to live the American Dream of having a nice home, a good job, financial security, and a car. He does all of these things for the sake of his family.


(ii) the object of his existence is ….. as if ……. he were

there only to fill in the gaps in the lives of

others …… whatever other people expect of him….. or

in whichever way they think they can use him.”

Ans) The above lines are taken from ‘Halfway House’ by Mohan Rakesh. In the text, Savitri and Juneja's meeting turns out to be a bad one. Each person blames the other for the wrongs that have been done to the family. Juneja says that Savitri has Mahendranath "in a trap" so that "he can't do anything for himself," and Savitri says that Mahendranath has not shown himself to be a "man."


Savitri says, "It's as if the only reason he exists is to fill in the gaps in other people's lives. He's there to do whatever other people want him to do or however they think they can use him." Savitri has always had doubts about Juneja because he used Mahendranath and tricked him about the money he owned and invested. At this point, she says what she thinks, to which Juneja replies, "Mahendranath was always a little quick." Mark Juneja said this in a condescending way. Savitri talks about how Mahendranath beat her and his children and how he wanted to change "the way I walk, the way I talk, the way I... that same Mahendra, who smiles sweetly with his friends, turns into a monster when he comes home."


Here, we see the kind of violence that is built into the structure of marriage and is done to the woman. Even when the man looks "meek" to the outside world, he becomes the oppressor inside his own home. We agree that Rakesh gives Savitri's character a lot of attention throughout the text and especially in this section. However, he doesn't do her character justice by making her want "a man" instead of Mahendranath, who is a weakling. By insisting on having a "man" in her life, a strong, sure-of-himself husband, Savitri seems to have a shallow understanding of the world around her, despite the fact that she sometimes makes deep observations.

(iii) ‘With the British, we have been losers all the way –

yes – but this is a new era. This is a new war. We

have bled for you. We have fought your wars for

you, against the Germans, Japanese, Italians.

Ans) The above lines are taken from ‘The Trial of Dedan KimathI’ by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and Micere Githae Mugo.


In the stage directions, it says, "Dedan Kimathi's four trials all take place in his cell. Shaw Henderson walks in and says he's a friend. He tells Kimathi that the people "sent me to talk sense into your stubborn head." He says he won't kill him and gives the examples of "China, Gati, Hungu, and Gaceru," whose lives they spared because they were "our collaborators." Henderson remembers that Kimathi and he used to play the game "horse and rider" together when they were kids. Kimathi then reminds Henderson that he always wanted Kimathi to play the horse so that he could ride him. Henderson tells Kimathi, "Your people are the losers, Dedan," and asks him to stop the killing. So, Kimathi's answer in the above lines is typical of a nationalist freedom fighter.


The fact that European soldiers and the Mau Mau are suspicious of each other shows how dangerous the guerrilla war is. Kimathi is very dedicated to protecting the people and property in his community. He thinks that Kenyans have done enough for the British people by protecting them from the most powerful countries in Europe and Asia. Kenyans must take control of their own country from the British colonists. People in Britain have to leave their land because a new wind of change has blown in.


Section C

Answer the following questions in 800 words each: 4 X 15 = 60


1. Discuss the theme of social responsibility in the play All My Sons.

Ans) All My Sons has one main idea, which is about taking care of other people. It shows that a man's duty to society and his country is more important than his duty to his family. The play shows how sad it is that a man made the mistake of getting rich and giving his family a comfortable and luxurious life at the expense of society. Joe Keller wants to live out the American Dream, which goes back to the first Puritan settlers who came to America to start a new city called New Jerusalem. In reality, this meant building an economic society in the middle of the American wilderness.


In time, though, success came from lying and ignoring morals. Keller only believes in the economic version of the American Dream, which puts morals and values in the background. Joe Keller's dream is all about his family. His main goal is to make sure his family is comfortable. Because of this, he fools his best friend and partner, Steve Deever. He is motivated by the unrealistic idea of the "American Dream." This meant to get ahead by lying and tricking people. He thinks that in this world of competition, you have to be successful on your own to make it. He betrays both his friend and his own country because he is afraid of failing.


Joe Keller, who made engines for aeroplanes, got a last-minute order from the army for cylinder heads for planes that would be used in war. But it turned out that all of the cracks in the cylinder heads made by the manufacturing unit. When the urgent order came in, Joe Keller was at home, while his business partner Steve Deever was at the manufacturing unit. Steve Deever called Joe Keller to let him know that he had found tiny cracks in the cylinder heads at the factory. Joe Keller could have asked Steve Deever to stop giving him these broken cylinder heads, but he thought that doing so would cost him a lot of money. One hundred and twenty cylinder heads that the factory had made were broken and throwing them away and making new ones would take a lot of time and cause the contract to end. Also, they wouldn't be able to meet the army's immediate needs for the cylinder heads because of the war.


Keller risked sending out the broken parts of the cylinder heads because he was short on money and wanted to get rich. Keller couldn't stand to see his business, which he had worked hard for forty years to build, fail. Keeping his own needs and the needs of his family in mind, he called Steve Deever and asked him to weld the cracks in the cylinders and send the gun to the army. Keller told him he had the flu and wouldn't be able to come to the factory, but he would take care of getting the broken cylinders to the factory himself. Keller later explains to his son why he did what he did. He says he thought the police would send him a report about the damaged cylinder heads after they had tested them. Because of this, 21 pilots were killed when their planes crashed. Steve Deever and Joe Keller both knew that the bad cylinder heads would put the pilots' lives in danger, but they only cared about making money and didn't care about the consequences.


Keller doesn't care about his social responsibilities and puts other people's lives at risk to get what he wants. Joe Keller's top priority is taking care of his family. He makes a bad choice, and the results are terrible. Keller says that his own values are those of the American capitalist society, which places a lot of importance on making money to be successful in this "land of opportunity." As he asks, "Who worked in that war for nothing?" When they don't have to work for anything, I won't either. Did they send a gun or a truck out of Detroit before they got their price? Do you understand? It comes down to dollars and cents, nickels and dimes, war and peace, nickels and dimes. If I leave, half the country has to leave, too. Joe Keller cares more about his immediate family than he does about the rest of society as a whole.


2. How does the Mau Mau struggle get reflected in the play The Trial of Dedan Kimathi? Discuss.

Ans) In modern Kenya, it's impossible to avoid seeing Dedan Kimathi's face. It is surrounded by two long horns made from bundles of dreadlocks. It is on t-shirts, in murals on the sides of buildings in Nairobi, and in graffiti on the sides of matatu buses. His picture has long been a symbol for all the heroic ideals and lost hopes of an era of revolutionary decolonization. In the years before he was caught, the "hunt" for Dedan Kimathi, the mysterious leader of the so-called Mau Mau rebellion that swept through Kenya in the 1950s and had many names, many faces, and even more meanings, held the world's attention. Kimathi was charged with having weapons and ammunition in 1956. Under the Emergency Regulations, which were put in place in 1952, he could have been sentenced to death. Hundreds of people gathered in front of the courthouse, hoping to see the famous leader. Kimathi was found guilty at the end of the trial and was sentenced to be "hung by the neck until he dies." Kimathi was hanged on February 18, 1957, after his many appeals were turned down.


People have thought for a long time that the record of Kimathi's trial was lost, destroyed, or kept secret on purpose. Many people have looked for it in archives on different continents, but they haven't found it. I just found a letter from the late J.M. Kariuki, who was a former Mau Mau prisoner and an outspoken populist Kenyan politician who was killed in 1975. In the letter, he asked the High Court for the file in 1971. We said no to the request. Any "archive" can have a strange and complicated history. The recent work of Mau Mau veterans to get compensation from the British government shows that the British destroyed and hid records, especially about their colonial past. In postcolonial Kenya, different governments have also destroyed or blocked access to archives because of how they might affect current conflicts over land, politics, violence, and memories. But trial records from colonial times have usually been available in England and Kenya. The fact that Kimathi's trial file is missing has made the many myths and conspiracy theories that have always been about him even bigger.


The fact that this file is missing is ironic, given that Kimathi strongly believed in the power of words and worked hard to keep historical records. Kimathi was known for his skill as a speaker and did well in school debate clubs. In the forests of Central Kenya, he talked to the Mau Mau itungati (groups of young warriors) about how important it was to keep records of the past. He told them that each camp should keep an account log, write histories, make new identity cards, and keep careful lists of loyal fighters and traitors. He set up the Kenyan Parliament in the forest and used a stamp that said "Marshal D. Kimathi" to mark his official orders. He wrote a lot of letters and wrote eloquent tracts that compared the struggle in Kenya to those in Indochina and Rhodesia, quoted Bible verses and Kikuyu proverbs, and told the British to live up to their own moral claims: "Mtoto umleavyo ndivyo akuavyo." Even though the British portrayed the Mau Mau as primitive, anti-modern, and anti-civilization savages, the state Kimathi built in the forest shows that his Mau Mau was not a rejection of modern governance but a building of an alternative to the colonial version of it.


From the controversial storey of how Homeguard Ndirangu s/o Mau caught and shot Kimathi to Kimathi's own testimony, in which he talks about his painful past with epilepsy, the struggles within the Mau Mau movement, and his desire for peace in Kenya, the book covers a lot of ground. The return of this important lost piece of history is sure to shock a lot of people. Its content will shake up many popular and historical beliefs and start much-needed debates about a much wider range of issues than those raised by the trial itself.


3. How is the character of Chris contrary to that of his father in All My Sons?

Ans) Arthur Miller's play "All My Sons" is about a normal family after World War II. It looks at the secrets and hidden guilt that the family has. Joe (the father) and Chris are the two main people in the play (son). Both characters are close, but their personalities are very different. Chris is an idealist, while Joe is a loner. This connection is important for understanding the characters and the play's main ideas. As the play goes on, their differences cause them to fight, which leads to a big change in both of their personalities. Character-wise, it's clear from the beginning of Act 1 that Joe and Chris have different ideas, even though they are close friends.


Keller: You’ve got a business here, what the hell is this?

Chris: the business! The business doesn’t inspire me

Keller: must you be inspired


Chris wants to be inspired, but Joe doesn't understand why. He points out that Joe only cares about the business and himself. From the beginning of the play, it's clear that Joe wants to be alone. He only cares about money and doesn't want to try to get better, so he stays away from the rest of the world. Early on in the play, it is clear that there is a lot of tension and conflict between them. Chris is the opposite of his father. He is idealistic, kind, and morally responsible, and he thinks that people "can be better." This is clear from what he says about how he always reads the book section of the newspaper but never buys a book. "I like to keep up with what I don't know." This shows that Chris wants to get better, even though he never does anything about it. Chris and Joe have clearly different ideas, and their relationship seems to be a little rocky.


As the play goes on, the tension between them grows, and their relationship starts to get worse. In the most important scene, the truth about what Joe did during the war comes out. Joe tries to explain why he did what he did by saying it was for his family.


Keller: I’m in business, a man is in business… what could I do, let them take forty years away, let them take my life away… For you, a business for you.


The fact that Joe did the same things over and over shows that he was only thinking about himself.


Chris: What the hell do you mean you did it for me? You’re not even animal, no animal kills his own. (Stumbles away covering his face)


Chris is in a lot of pain, as shown by the stage directions. Chris is so upset by what his father did that he says Joe isn't even human and is even worse than an animal. Now that the conflict and tension that had been building up for a while have blown up, there is a big fight between father and son. After the important scene, it's clear that Chris has changed. Because of what his father did, Chris seems to have given up on being a good person.


Chris: I could jail him! I could jail him. If I were human anymore. But I’m practical now. You made me practical.


Chris doesn't turn his father in to the police because he loves him too much. This is the right thing to do. This shows the theme of being responsible, as well as the theme of family versus morality. In terms of Chris's beliefs and morals, Joe has "killed" him in a way. Chris has changed, and he's no longer the idealist he used to be. Joe, on the other hand, doesn't get any better at not being himself. He tries to say that he wasn't the only person to do well after the war.


Keller: I’ll work for nothing…its nickels and dimes; war and peace, its nickels and dimes. What’s clean? Half the goddamn country is gotta go if I go!


This shows that Joe still only cares about business and money, and that he still doesn't care about his soon. Joe has changed because of the conflict. He has changed when Chris shows him Larry's letter.


Keller: Sure, he was my son. But I think to him they were all my sons. And I guess they were. I guess they were.


Joe is finally starting to understand that all of the pilots he killed were, in a way, "All (his) Sons." In some ways, he has also killed both of his own sons. In a way, Joe is still being selfish by killing himself instead of facing his shame and going to jail. Miller's view of American men is shown by the fact that they didn't take real responsibility for what they did or show real regret for what they did.


To sum up, "All My Sons" is a play about the conflict between a father and a son. This conflict helps bring out the themes of the play. Chris and Joe were close friends, but they had very different ideas about life. Chris was an idealist, but his father's actions hurt him so much that Chris changed. Because of this, Joe killed his own son in a metaphorical sense. Miller is able to show what he thinks about modern America, men's lack of responsibility, and men like Joe Keller's selfishness through the changes in the two characters.


4. Comment on the clash of different perspectives in Halfway House.

Ans) The family's differences finally take centre stage, and it seems like the people in the play are all alone and can't connect with each other. Still, there are two things that need to be said. First, a person who is alone is alone because of specific circumstances. Second, a person's loneliness is only a phase that leads to a climax; it is not a universal human condition. In this way, the tense relationships in Halfway House are a result of specific changes in the family's economic and social life. There is a feeling that a terrible thing is about to happen to the whole family. This is why, on one level, the characters in the play seem to have very unique attitudes.


But the characters' attitudes and ways of acting should be seen as a response to what was going on at the time. At the same time, it's important to ask if the playwright thinks that the modern man's isolation is a good thing or if he sees it as a kind of deviation from the norm. Mohan Rakesh thinks that this kind of isolation is a result of the social situation, and he doesn't think that this is the best way for people to live. The text makes it clear that while Savitri is at her wit's end trying to get the family's social and financial stability back, Ashok seems determined to just let things happen and let the house fall apart. For Ashok, the complicated state of being on the move feels much more oppressive than the real situation will be once the family breaks up.


Because of this, he says, "It's about time things changed!" and "I want the whole thing to be settled one way or another."


Savitri, on the other hand, keeps hoping that "something might come of it. If I try to stay in touch with certain people, it's not for me but for you all. This house is so hard to take care of that I need someone to help me. I can't do it by myself!"


The different ways that Savitri and Ashok feel about the situation they're in makes their relationships even more unstable, since they don't agree on things that affect the family. Because of this, Ashok doesn't think it's right to call their house "home."


Mahendranath also wants to start a new business with Juneja because he thinks that his friend might be able to help him in the long run. However, he is ruled by the logic of fate working against him, so he gives up and just waits for the outcome. Even though he has been insulted a lot, Mahendranath can't break ties with his family and is still worried about the lives of those around him.


In the text, neither Savitri nor Mahendranath seems to understand the other, but they have been together for over twenty-two years. As separate people, they can't make a relationship work. Maybe marriage and family act as ties that bring them together in the end. If they could do what they wanted, they would have split up a long time ago. However, marriage and family limit individual freedom and force their own rules on them. Even though these institutions limit a person's freedom, they also allow him or her to take part in the social and cultural forces that control him or her. This is why it's important to look at the relationship between the individual and society in a dialectical way, where the characters don't just stay in their own worlds but also act as agents who can change the way things are in society. In Halfway House, we see that the characters fight against the most powerful forces in society, but it's not clear if they become active agents who change the social order by taking part in it.

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