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Master Harold and the Boys Essay

February 11th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Throughout “Master Harold” … and the Boys, Athol Fugard describes many emotions that take place between the characters, to which different reactions are noted. An emotion is a subjective response, usually accompanied by a physiological change, which is interpreted in a particular way by the individual and often leads to a change in behavior (Psychology 314). The emotions are not just expressed vocally, but they are also expressed in stage directions. The primary emotions in the play are love, happiness, and anger. In each, the reactions can be seen as good and bad.

Love is an emotion that is expressed in many different ways throughout the play. One way that love is expressed is through Sam’s love for dancing. He has been dancing since Hally was a young child and now he teaches all his dances to Willie. Another kind of love that is expressed in this play is the love for another human being. Hally expresses his love for his father when he says, “I love him, Sam”(58). Also, Sam’s love for Hally is unbelievable: he loves Hally like a son, because Sam helps him with his schoolwork, plays checkers with him, and also made a kite for him. In this play love is an emotion that is amazing and the characters show the benefits in their reaction to it.

Happiness can be beneficial as well. The characters in this play do not display much happiness during the play. However, the characters have memories that do bring some happiness back in their lives. Sam finds happiness when he is dancing around the tearoom, teaching Willie. Also Sam says, “It’s a harmless pleasure, Hally. It doesn’t hurt anybody”(39). Other than Sam’s joy for dancing, Hally, Willie, and Sam shows great joy and happiness thinking and speaking about the days they spent together when Hally was younger. For example, Sam tells how Hally would hide in their room from his mother, and Hally says, “You chaps would give the game away by telling her I was in there with you”(25).

They all have a good laugh about this one. Another example their memories of bringing happiness occurs when Hally is speaking about how he remembers all the smells and paths that he would take to arrive at Willie’s and Sam’s room to play checkers with them. One time Hally barged in and caught Sam and Cynthia making love. This scene is funny to the characters now, but Hally admits he was embarrassed when the event took place. Lastly, Hally tells the story of how Sam was making a kite, Hally says, “I was praying quietly that there wouldn’t be any other kids around to laugh at us”(29).

When the kite starts to fly, Hally was very happy and says, “I had a stiff neck the next day from looking up so much”(31). Although there was not much happiness present in the play, the play shows that happiness can come from memories. It shows how happiness can bring joy as a reaction.

Finally, anger is an emotion that people should not want to express. In this play, however, anger is present. Willie is an angry person at the beginning of the play because nothing seems to go his way. At First, Willie is angry with Hilda, his dance partner, because she never shows up for dance practice. In addition, Willie claims, “She was scandalizin’ my name / She took my money”(4). Willie becomes angry with Hilda when she turns him in to the Child Welfare, because he is not paying for their baby. However, Willie claims to be paying for the milk. Then Willie says, “And how do I know is my baby?”(6). Hally also displays anger when Willie throws a rag at Sam, but hits Hally instead. Hally yells, “For Christ’s sake, Willie! What the hell do you think you’re doing!”(13). Hally is also furious with his father because he wants to come home. When his mother tells him to bring a bottle of brandy home, he takes the bottle and smashes it on the counter. Furthermore, Sam tells Hally to stop speaking badly about his father. Hally replies with, “Mind your own fucking business and shut up!”(53). Anger is one emotion brings unhappiness, but human beings have to deal with it. During this play, the reactions for the characters are brought about by the emotions.

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