Juno and the Paycock is a play by Sean O’Casey. It was written during the period of the Irish Civil War which had been going on for several centuries. Main Ireland got freedom after the First World War. Ireland was thereafter divided into two, northern and southern Ireland. Northern Ireland was now called Ulster and was extremely dominated by Anglican religion while main Ireland, southern Ireland, was dominated by the Roman Catholic. This showed that there was a political and religious problem between the two countries. O’Casey explained that in 1916, there was the Great War where many people were killed. Due to his peaceful condition, he felt very sorry for them.
O’Casey expresses in the play his feelings towards war. His expression shows how much he is against war and how war affects society and individuals. He explains how war destroys the economy, the systems and breaks up the family structure. In addition, he explains that war separates generations, and destroys the psychology of people. The play mainly revolved around Boyle’s family. Juno is Boyle’s wife and they have two children Jonny and Mary. Boyle is irresponsible and spends much of his time in the pub drinking with his friend Joxer. Jonny is sickly and participated in the Republican movement. He betrayed his friend Tancred and is later dragged off to be shot due to the betrayal.
The whole play elaborates on the irony that while others were involved in fighting for principles and ideals, others were suffering from the overwhelming effects of poverty. For instance, Mary is abandoned by Bentham after discovering that she was expectant and the family would not inherit any legacy that they were informed about anymore. In addition, Juno is presented as an irresponsible man who doesn’t work hard. He mostly spends his time idling and drinking. The play presents a strong catholic background; O’Casey also presents a variety of different religions and attitudes throughout the play. O’Casey describes that Juno’s faith is true even after the death of his son. She described the cause of his son’s death as the stupidity of men and not the will of God. Juno is represented as a hardworking woman; she takes all the responsibilities of the family and works wholeheartedly while her husband spends all his time drinking. All men in the play are presented as weaklings. In the case of Johnny, he betrayed his friend making him fearful therefore spending most hours indoors.
In the play, O’Casey describes how the war had various effects on society. The main issues of war in the play were injury, betrayal and finally death. For instance, Johnny was emotionally and physically wounded after the Easter Rising. Additionally, he reported one of his friends to the authorities. He, therefore, feared that he would be discovered making him spend a lot of time in the house. Even though he was hiding, he was later discovered and shot dead. The play elaborates points from a domestic point of view. This is revealed depending on the effects that war had on individuals and the society at large.
The play mainly revolves around the war in Ireland. It uses Boyles Family and the misfortunes they have in order to symbolize the Irish troubles in the Irish Civil War. It presents how war affects the community by disrupting the normal ways of life. The most painful outcome of the war as presented is death. As described in the play, death led to total confusion and poverty in Boyle’s family. The play was actually set in the tenements of the city and it symbolized how it was greatly rooted in poverty and dreadful conditions of the resultants of war. Due to illegitimacy, women were left humiliated in the end.
O’Casey Sean. Three Plays: Juno and the Paycock, the Shadow of a Gunman, the Plow and the Stars. New York: St. Martins Griffin; 1st edition, 1969. Print