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Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Mother's Day - Reading, Notes and Question Bank
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
J. B. Priestley
•1894 – 1984
•No memory of his birth mother. Had a kind step mother.
•Three wives and three daughters.
•Called by some the last ‘sage’ of English literature
•Refused knighthood and peerage
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO FEMINISM
The history of the modern western Feminist movements can be divided into
three 'waves'. Each is described as dealing with different aspects of
the same feminist issues:
wave - women's suffrage
movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
(Read Virginia Woolf's - ‘A Room
of One’s Own’ – divorce, contraceptives, abortion)
wave - women's
liberation movement beginning in the 1960s (which campaigned for legal and
social equality for women. Read Simone de Beauvoir – 'Women as ‘the other’').
wave - the perceived
failures of second-wave feminism, beginning in the 1990s.
AS YOU READ, REMEMBER:
1) The play was written 1953 when feminism was still a relatively new
concept and managed to raise eyebrows and drop jaws when mentioned.
2) Mrs. Pearson is the quintessential English housewife while Mrs.
Fitzgerald represents the exotic mysteries of the east. The contrast
makes them representative of the two extreme cultures.
3) Try and analyse the social and personal causes behind Mrs. Pearson's
problems. Is she a victim of society or simply a woman unable to muster
the courage required to usher change?
4) Mrs. Fitzgerald seems to be an answer to Mrs. Pearson's prayers.
Remember that it is not Mrs. Pearson who actually initiates the change
in the family's attitude.
5) 'The tea' becomes a symbol of the oppressed woman caught in the
domestic arena. The tea is expected and taken for granted. The tea not
being ready, even when not really wanted, is a shock to the family. It
is a deviation from the norm, an unwelcome change.
6) Consider the role of a woman in a family: before Mrs. Fitzgerald and thereafter.
7) Question yourself about whether Mrs. Pearson truly has the requisites
to maintain the change initiated by Mrs. Fitzgerald. In the absence of
the traits required, how long with the change survive?
8) Analyse the role of 'suspended disbelief' in the story. The magic
seems an insignificant bit in the overall scheme of things and yet is
central to the plot of the story.
9) Analyse the characters of the men and women in the play apart from
Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. Fitzgerald. Reflect on the kind of family and
social life the other characters represent.
10) Reflect on the fact that the play is written by a male playwright.
Short answer questions –
Q.1. What is the main idea of the play? Has it been brought out
effectively by the writer?
Q.2. How does Mrs. Pearson act with her children after exchanging
personality with Mrs. Fitzgerald?
Q.3. How does Mrs. Pearson deal with her husband in her new
Q.4. Why is Mrs. Pearson always ordered about by her family
Q.5. What advice did Mrs. Fitzgerald give Mrs. Pearson regarding
being the boss in her family?
Q.6. Doris says, “You’ll see” to her
father.What does she mean?
Q.7. Mrs. Annie Pearson and Mrs. Fitzgerald are totally opposite
to each other in their attitude. Showthe difference between their personalities?
Q.8. What advice does Mrs. Fitzgerald give to Mrs. Pearson after
they change back personalities?
Q.9. How does the Pearson family spend the evening together?
Q.10.This is the most humorous play with many humorous
situations. Which situation did you enjoy the most?
Long answer questions:
Q.1. What do you know about feminism and how has the playwright depicted it in this play?
Q.2. As Mrs. Fitzgerald, write a diary entry based on the events of the day.
Q.3. Years later, Mrs. Pearson meets Mrs. Fitzgerald again. Create the conversation they have.
Q.4. Doris grows up to be a young woman married to man different
than the one she had been dating during the play. Write a letter as
Doris to her mother sharing the intricacies of the daughter's married
Q.5. Create a fictional piece about an evening at the
Fitzgeralds' home contrasting it with the Pearson's family's day as
depicted by the play. Create new characters as required but keep the
matriarchs as the main protagonists.