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MEG-02: British Drama

MEG-02: British Drama

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2023-24

If you are looking for MEG-02 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject British Drama, you have come to the right place. MEG-02 solution on this page applies to 2023-24 session students studying in MEG, PGDBLT courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Solution

Assignment Code: MEG-02/TMA 01/2023-24

Course Code: MEG-02

Assignment Name: British Drama

Year: 2023-2024

Verification Status: Verified by Professor

Max. Marks: 100

Section A is compulsory. Attempt any four questions in Section B

Section A

Q1) Critically comment on the following passages with reference to the context, in not more than 150 words each: (4x5=20)

Q1. a) O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven, It had the primal eldest curse upon't A brother's murder! Pray can I not. Though inclination be as sharp as will.

Ans)The lines are quoted are from William Shakespeare's play "Hamlet." In this soliloquy, Hamlet is deeply troubled by his own inaction and inability to seek revenge for his father's murder Hamlet reflects on his failure to take swift action against his uncle, King Claudius, who has not only usurped the throne but also murdered Hamlet's father, King Hamlet.

Hamlet's guilt is portrayed as overwhelming, as he describes it as "rank" and suggests that it "smells to heaven." This metaphorical language emphasizes the gravity of his inaction and the extent of his moral guilt. Hamlet refers to the murder of his father as the "primal eldest curse." This phrase underscores the ancient and archetypal nature of the crime, as well as its moral reprehensibility.

Hamlet acknowledges that despite his strong desire for revenge, he finds himself unable to act. This internal conflict is a central theme in the play, as Hamlet grapples with the complexities of morality, duty, and his own psychological turmoil.

Q1. b) Galatea never does quite like Pygmalion: relation to her is too godlike to be altogether agreeable.

Ans) The quote provided is a critical observation from George Bernard Shaw's play "Pygmalion." In the play, Professor Henry Higgins transforms Eliza Doolittle, a flower girl with a strong Cockney accent, into a refined lady. The quote pertains to the evolving relationship between Higgins and Eliza, and it reflects the complex dynamics at play:

In this statement, the term "Galatea" refers to Eliza Doolittle, and "Pygmalion" represents Professor Higgins. The comparison draws upon the Greek myth of Pygmalion, a sculptor who falls in love with his own creation, a statue named Galatea, and later, she comes to life.

This quote suggests that Eliza's transformation from a lower-class flower girl to a refined lady under Higgins' guidance is akin to a godlike act. However, it also implies that this transformation, while elevating her social status, may come at the cost of her independence and sense of self. Eliza may not fully appreciate the godlike role that Higgins has assumed in her life, and this dynamic raises questions about power, agency, and the consequences of such transformations.

Q1. c) What boots it then to think of God or heaven ? Away with such fancies and despair; Despairin God, and trust in Beelzebub ... Abjure this magic, turn to God again.

Ans) The lines are quoted are from Christopher Marlowe's play "Doctor Faustus," where the protagonist, Doctor Faustus, contemplates his decision to turn away from God and embrace dark forces.

Faustus's words reflect his inner turmoil and spiritual crisis. He questions the significance of thinking about God and heaven when he has already embraced a path of despair and darkness. This reflects Faustus's internal struggle between his earlier faith and his newfound desire for power and knowledge through his pact with the devil.

Faustus's reference to "despair in God" and "trust in Beelzebub" reveals his growing temptation and vulnerability to the devil's influence. He is contemplating abandoning his previous beliefs and submitting to darker forces. These lines foreshadow Faustus's eventual regret and tragic downfall. His vacillation between faith and temptation underscores the moral and ethical dilemmas central to the play.

In "Doctor Faustus," Marlowe explores themes of ambition, the consequences of knowledge, and the human capacity for both good and evil. Faustus's inner conflict and descent into despair serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of pursuing power and knowledge without ethical boundaries.

Q1. d) Astride of a grave and a difficult birth

Down in the hole, lingeringly,

the gravedigger puts on the forceps.

We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. But habit is a great deadener.

Ans) These lines are from Samuel Beckett's play "Waiting for Godot," and they encapsulate the bleak and existential themes that permeate the work. The lines evoke a sense of existential despair and futility. The image of being "astride of a grave and a difficult birth" highlights the absurdity of life, where individuals are simultaneously confronted with the inevitability of death and the struggle of existence.

The gravedigger putting on forceps symbolizes the inescapable and cyclical nature of life and death. It suggests that even in the face of death, there is a lingering attempt to cling to life.

The mention of growing old underscores the passage of time, but the assertion that "habit is a great deadener" suggests that routine and familiarity can numb individuals to the harsh realities of life. People may go through the motions, but the profound questions and existential crises are often suppressed or ignored.

The reference to the air being "full of our cries" conveys a sense of suffering and anguish. It implies that human existence is fraught with pain and struggle, and these cries go largely unheard or unheeded.

Section B

Q1) Discuss the play Pygmalion as a romance? Elaborate.

Ans) "Pygmalion," a play written by George Bernard Shaw and first performed in 1913, is often regarded as a romantic story, albeit with a unique twist that challenges traditional notions of romance. While it contains elements of romance, it primarily functions as a social commentary and a satirical examination of class, identity, and transformation.

Transformation of Eliza Doolittle:

One of the central elements that can be seen as romantic in "Pygmalion" is the transformation of Eliza Doolittle, a poor flower girl with a strong Cockney accent, into a refined lady. This transformation is orchestrated by Professor Henry Higgins, who takes her under his wing and trains her in speech, manners, and comportment.

The idea of a rough, unpolished individual undergoing a dramatic change and emerging as a more socially acceptable person can be viewed as a romantic trope. It represents the idea of personal growth and self-improvement, which is often associated with romantic narratives.

Eliza's Independence:

In a departure from traditional romantic narratives, "Pygmalion" emphasizes Eliza's agency and independence. She is not a passive damsel in distress but an active participant in her own transformation. She willingly undertakes the challenge and asserts her desire for self-improvement, which aligns with feminist themes of empowerment.

Ambiguity of Feelings:

The romantic aspect of "Pygmalion" is complex due to the ambiguous nature of the relationship between Higgins and Eliza. While there are hints of affection and dependency, their feelings are not explicitly romantic. Instead, the play explores themes of mentorship, friendship, and interdependence. The audience is left to interpret the characters' emotions, which challenges the traditional conventions of clear-cut romantic relationships.

Subversion of Romantic Tropes:

Shaw subverts traditional romantic tropes in "Pygmalion." Instead of a conventional love story, the play critiques the superficiality of society's obsession with appearances and social class. The final act of the play leaves the romantic outcome open-ended. Eliza asserts her independence, challenging Higgins, and her future is uncertain. This departure from the expected romantic resolution underscores the play's social and feminist themes.


Ultimately, "Pygmalion" serves as a social commentary on class distinctions and the importance of language and appearance in society. While there are romantic elements, they are overshadowed by Shaw's broader critique of societal norms and values.

Q2) Discuss the art of characterisation in The Playboy of the Western World?

Ans) John Millington Synge's "The Playboy of the Western World" is a classic play that features a memorable cast of characters. The art of characterization in this play is marked by its rich portrayal of individuals from a rural Irish community in the early 20th century.

Christy Mahon:

Christy is the central character and the eponymous "playboy." Synge's characterization of Christy is layered and multifaceted. He begins as a timid and submissive young man, fleeing from a perceived crime. However, as the play progresses, Christy undergoes a transformation, becoming a charismatic and confident figure.

His character arc is a testament to Synge's skill in portraying the complexity of human nature. The audience witnesses Christy's evolution from a meek fugitive to a charming hero, and this transformation challenges traditional notions of heroism.

Pegeen Mike:

Pegeen is a pivotal character in the play, serving as the object of Christy's affection. She is portrayed as a strong-willed and assertive young woman who is unafraid to speak her mind. Her character reflects the independent spirit of Irish women in the rural setting. Pegeen’s interactions with Christy reveal her vulnerability and her desire for excitement, providing depth to her character.

The Villagers:

Synge populates the play with a colourful array of villagers who add authenticity to the rural Irish setting. Each villager has distinct traits and quirks, from the boastful Shawn Keogh to the aging widow Susan Brady. The villagers' dialogues and actions contribute to the comedic and dramatic aspects of the play, showcasing Synge's ability to capture the idiosyncrasies of rural life.

Michael James Flaherty:

As the father of Pegeen, Michael is portrayed as a traditional and conservative figure. He represents the generational divide in the play, as he disapproves of Pegeen's interest in Christy.

Michael's character highlights the clash between tradition and change, a recurring theme in Irish literature.

Old Mahon:

Old Mahon, Christy's father, appears later in the play, challenging the perception of Christy's heroic act. His character adds a layer of moral ambiguity to the story, forcing the villagers and the audience to question Christy's actions and motivations.

Old Mahon's arrival also intensifies the dramatic tension and leads to a climactic confrontation.

Widow Quin:

Widow Quin is a complex character who plays a pivotal role in the unfolding events. She is depicted as cunning and manipulative, often scheming to achieve her own objectives.

Widow Quin's character adds intrigue and conflict to the narrative, making her a memorable antagonist.

Synge's art of characterization in "The Playboy of the Western World" lies in his ability to create a diverse cast of characters who embody the essence of rural Irish life. Through their interactions, conflicts, and evolving relationships, Synge explores themes of identity, heroism, and societal expectations.

Q3) Comment on the historical significance of Look Back in Anger.

Ans) "Look Back in Anger," written by John Osborne and first performed in 1956, holds significant historical importance in the realm of British theatre and culture. It is often considered a groundbreaking work that marked a turning point in British drama.

Breaking Away from Post-War Conventions:

"Look Back in Anger" emerged in the aftermath of World War II and during a period of post-war recovery. British theatre at the time was dominated by well-made plays and conventional, polite dramas that often-avoided direct confrontation with social issues.

Osborne's play shattered these conventions by presenting a raw, unfiltered portrayal of contemporary life. It introduced a level of realism, emotional intensity, and social critique that was revolutionary for its time.

The Angry Young Man Movement:

The play is often associated with the "Angry Young Man" movement, which included a group of British writers and playwrights who expressed frustration with the status quo and societal inequalities. These artists challenged established norms and institutions.

Jimmy Porter, the play's protagonist, personifies the Angry Young Man archetype. He is discontented with the social and political landscape, and his anger and disillusionment are central to the narrative.

Social Critique and Class Conflict:

"Look Back in Anger" provides a searing critique of British society, particularly its class structure and the post-war generation's disillusionment with it. The play highlights the stark class divisions and the frustration of working-class characters like Jimmy, who feel excluded from the opportunities of the upper class. The portrayal of class conflict and the harsh reality of post-war Britain resonated deeply with audiences, sparking discussions about social inequality and the need for change.

Shift in Theatrical Realism:

Osborne's play contributed to a shift in theatrical realism. It rejected the polished and genteel dramas of the past in favour of a more authentic and emotionally charged style of storytelling. The play's intimate setting in a cramped flat and its unfiltered dialogue added a new dimension to British theatre. This shift in realism paved the way for a new generation of playwrights to explore contemporary issues with greater authenticity and relevance.

Impact on British Culture and Society:

"Look Back in Anger" had a profound impact on British culture and society. It sparked debates about the generation gap, political apathy, and the state of the nation. The term "angry young man" entered the cultural lexicon, symbolizing the frustrations of a generation. The play's themes resonated with the broader social and political changes of the 1950s and 1960s, including the rise of youth culture, the decline of traditional institutions, and a growing sense of restlessness and dissent.

Influence on British Theatre:

John Osborne's work paved the way for a new wave of British playwrights and theatre practitioners who embraced a more confrontational and socially relevant style of drama. Playwrights like Harold Pinter and Arnold Wesker were influenced by Osborne's daring approach. The play's impact extended beyond its initial production, shaping the trajectory of British theatre for decades to come.

Q4) Discuss the Romantic and Modernist conceptions of character in the presentation of Jimmy as the play's protagonist.

Ans) John Osborne's "Look Back in Anger" presents a complex protagonist in Jimmy Porter, whose character embodies elements of both Romantic and Modernist conceptions. By analysing Jimmy's character, understand how the play incorporates aspects of both literary movements.

Romantic Conceptions of Character in Jimmy:

Individualism and Passion: The Romantics celebrated the individual and their passions, often depicting characters who rebelled against societal norms. Jimmy Porter embodies this Romantic ideal through his passionate and defiant nature. He refuses to conform to the expectations of his working-class background and openly expresses his discontent with society.

Intense Emotions: Romantic characters are known for their intense and often turbulent emotions. Jimmy's anger, frustration, and emotional volatility align with this aspect of Romantic character portrayal. His outbursts and verbal tirades reflect the Romantic emphasis on emotional authenticity.

Quest for Meaning: Romantics often depicted characters on a quest for meaning and self-discovery. Jimmy's constant questioning of the world around him and his search for a sense of purpose align with this theme. He grapples with existential questions about life's meaning and societal injustices.

Modernist Conceptions of Character in Jimmy:

Alienation and Disillusionment: Modernist literature frequently explored themes of alienation and disillusionment in the face of a changing world. Jimmy's sense of alienation from both his working-class roots and the upper-class establishment mirrors this Modernist theme. He is a character out of sync with his time, a feeling common among Modernist protagonists.

Fragmented Identity: Modernist characters often grapple with fragmented or disjointed identities. Jimmy's character exhibits this trait as he moves between moments of intellectual clarity and emotional turmoil. His character is fragmented by societal expectations and personal struggles.

Critique of Society: Modernist literature often critiqued the societal structures of the time. Jimmy's scathing critiques of British society, class divisions, and political apathy reflect the Modernist impulse to expose the flaws and contradictions of contemporary culture.

Synthesis of Romantic and Modernist Conceptions in Jimmy:

Jimmy Porter serves as a bridge between Romantic and Modernist conceptions of character. While he embodies the Romantic spirit of individualism, passion, and emotional intensity, his character is also marked by the alienation, disillusionment, and societal critique typical of Modernist figures.

Jimmy's character represents the tensions and contradictions of post-war Britain, a society in transition. His passionate outbursts and rejection of conformity align with Romantic ideals, while his sense of dislocation and frustration with a changing world reflect Modernist concerns.

Jimmy Porter is a multifaceted character who defies easy categorization. His portrayal in "Look Back in Anger" illustrates how literature can draw from different literary movements to create characters that encapsulate the complexities of their time. Jimmy's character is a testament to Osborne's ability to craft a character who simultaneously embodies and challenges the literary ideals of both Romanticism and Modernism.

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