Q. How do the playwrights make the relationship between Matthew Harrison Brady and Sarah Brady amusing for the reader?
In the play, Mathew Harrison Brady, the lead prosecutor in the “monkey trial” is shown to have a rather dynamic personality. He and his wife Sarah Brady, appear to be the perfect couple with their broad smiles and charismatic persona. The playwrights use diction, stage directions, and character delineation to shed light on their loving relationship.
Lawrence and lee make their enigmatic relationship more amusing for the reader with the avid usage of stage directions. At their very introduction, the playwrights introduce the couple as the “second man” and “second lady”. This portrays how the couple were not held in high regard by the playwrights and are susceptible to mockery by them throughout the play. The playwrights also mention Sarah Brady to be her husbands “shadow”. This was quite a stereotype in the1950s where men had a much more dominant role in society, but to a 21st-century audience, this would be unorthodox because, for us, equality is the basis for marriage. This is extremely amusing especially because she was “content” with this situation. Her love for her husband is evident by her concern for his physical condition. He perspires a lot and in order to protect him from the “treacherous” “night breezes”, she wraps a “small handkerchief” around his neck. Brady is currently in conversation with the Reverend but is interrupted for a whimsical reason by his wife. It is extremely amusing for the reader to see that Mrs. Brady’s love for “Matt” forces her chief concern to be her husband and not his public image. What further entertains the reader is that Brady is not annoyed by this action but rather cherishes it and is not afraid to make a public display of his love for his wife. Her love for her husband is also shown when Brady is shamed in the court. In this scene, the playwrights avidly use visual imagery to portray their relationship as one of a mother and a child. She is seen to “cradle” a wailing Brady “against her breast” and “rock her husband to sleep”.This is extremely amusing for the reader as it usually the male with a strong and dominant personality. This elucidates how their relationships were not entirely two sided and it was Sarah Brady who is the glue that binds their relationship together.
Diction is another by means of which the playwrights make the relationship more and more interesting. They portray their relationship to be that of a mother and a child. He constantly refers to her as “mother” and Mrs. Brady refers to him as “baby”. She plays the role of a mother and constantly guides Brady. Her overflowing concern for her “baby” makes the play very amusing. This is reinforced time and again during the play. After the court case when Brady was humiliated, she takes this motherly role again. Even though she herself was not humiliated, she looks “worried and distraught” just as a mother would be. This shows how she would stand with her husband through thick and thin and how she considers any jibe at her husband a jibe at her own honor. She has to step up time and again to console Brady like a mother consoling the child. The playwrights use soothing words during all such conversations. The phrase ‘its alright’ depicts how even Sarah had to help her husband every time he felt sad and low. This shows how she would try and make Brady happy even when the whole world had gone against him. This again shows how Sarah Brady lived ‘under the shadow’ of her husband, always trying to support his viewpoint like a mother would try and make a child happy by not pointing out his mistakes. Her love for Brady had outweighed her own intellect, as she was always in agreement with her husband, like during the entire court scene. Thus, its amusing to see Mrs. Brady ‘contently’ live under the ‘shadow’ of Brady by surrendering all her liberty to express her view regarding the monkey trial. This is quite a contrast to how Rachel decides to quit her father and join Cates. It’s obviously because of her love, but also because she starts to disapprove of the narrow-mind fundamentalism
Moreover, over the flowing concern can be seen from the stretched slow sentences with ‘-‘ and elipses that Sarah utilizes. This indicates that Sarah had altered her speaking, in order for is husband to calm down and relax. As such the with the sort of affection displayed, the relation seems quite amusing for the Modern audience
The playwrights have made this relationship amusing with the help of the dialogue exchange between the couple as well. Lawrence and Lee portray Brady as an ‘almost president,’ yet dependent on his wife to carry ‘her bag,’ with his belongings. Her constant reminders to Brady such as ‘not to overeat,’ show how both personalities are over dependent on each other and would struggle in life without each other’s support. This overdependence is amusing for an audience as it is something not seen in reality. Moreover, the over-caring, motherly attitude of Sarah Brady can again be seen as she says ‘it’s time for Mr. Brady’s nap’ and that ‘he always likes to nap after a meal’. A lady instructing a man what to do in public was very unusual back in the 50’s. Mrs. Brady also interrupts the photo-shoot at their arrival. She is ‘disturbed by the informality of the pose’ and hence asks Brady to put on his ‘coat’. What again amusing is that despite the constant interruptions produced by Brady’s wife, which may cause one to feel annoyed, Brady was very tolerant. He requests the photographer to take another photograph with her wife’s desired perfect formal ‘pose.’
As Brady immediately accepts her wife’s suggestion and willing to disturb all the dignitaries for a second picture, the immaturity in both characters is reflected.
According to me, the aspect that really stands out in their relationship is the role reversal between the two characters. In public, Brady ‘carries with him a built in spotlight’ and the crowd falls to an ‘anticipatory silence’ when he is about to speak. However, this is not the case when the two are alone. Sarah Brady is the one who dominates their personal relationship. It is Sarah Brady who has been the pillar of support for Brady as he almost always breaks down upon the slightest humiliation. This makes Mrs. Brady assume the role of a mother and caress his feelings. This role reversal is an amusing for the audience as they find this relationship erratic, and not according to conventions.
Hence, the use of stage directions, apt diction, and the exchange of dialogue between the two; their relationship has been made entertaining for the audience.