Bombshells – Analytical SAC Essay

“Selfish, stupid, disorganised mother.” Bombshells is about the impact of unreasonable expectations. To what extent do you agree?

Throughout the six monologues displayed within the play, ‘Bombshells’, playwright Joanna Murray-Smith highlights the battles and struggles a wide variety of female characters must endure on a daily basis. Murray-Smith expresses different emotions and actions within each play, using explicit language and sentence structure, unique to each individual character, such as Meryl or Tiggy, to apply emphasis and insight into how each woman is coping with their different circumstances.

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The monologues demonstrate the expectations forced upon women and how they must shoulder through each of them to focus on the positive demeanour life brings, as shown through Zoe.

Meryl Louise Davenport is the focal character within the first monologue of Joanna Murray-Smith’s play, ‘Bombshells’. Murray-Smith exhibits Meryl as a middle-ages woman, struggling to fulfil societal expectations as she manoeuvres her life around the array of roles placed upon her, and is feeling as though she has failed each of them.

During Meryl’s monologue, she gets progressively more frantic, indicated by the use of short and sharp language, as she struggles to deal with being a mother in a world where mothers are expected to do everything right. She is in a constant battle with herself, struggling with the different mien of her identity, she aims to represent the image of a calm, beautiful, and in-control woman, and her desire to be seen in such a way can be found throughout many quotes within her monologue, for example, “I have to be punctual or the teacher will think im a failure. I am a total failure.”, “need to look glamorous for Barry”, and “care more about what the teacher thinks of me than Amy’s feelings” all display an insight into Meryl’s wish to be viewed upon as. Murray-Smith depicts Meryl to have low self-esteem, calling herself a “selfish, stupid, disorganised mother”, and is in constant self-comparison to others “Gwyneth Paltrow does yoga. If I do yoga my life will begin to resemble Gwynnie’s.” Meryl believes that she is “a horrible evil woman, lying to protect [her] own reputation” and appears to feel that her identity is under threat from the numerous expectations in her life. Meryl has been impacted immensely from the unreasonable societal expectations a woman in her position must attend to; mother, wife, teacher, friend, neighbour, and wife; and the pressures has driven a woman that once was “to be described as ‘live wire’” to someone who believes to be “swallowed up in sadness”. Joanna Murray-Smith justly associates Meryl Louise Davenport to further illustrate to the audience about the ongoing struggles faced daily by women in positions alike to Meryl’s, and how we choose to accredit others’ perceptions upon ourselves.

The focal character within the second monologue of Joanna Murray-Smith’s ‘Bombshells’, Tiggy Entwhistle, has been portrayed to be a middle-aged woman giving a speech to an audience regarding the topic of cacti. Throughout her monologue, her cacti speech descends into a rant about her ex-husband, Harry, as the cacti remind her of her failed relationship. She embarks her speech to her audience by informing them that “membership of this Society has provided [her] with a sense of belonging” then proceeds to familiarize them with her personal troubles through saying “I can only stress that my cacti have played an essential part in holding me together.” Her emotions start to seep through to her cacti presentation, causing her distress of some sort, but she later composes herself. She finishes her monologue by educating her audience of how to replant cacti. She states that “great care must be used when the decision is made to replant a cactus. Consideration must be paid to the existing ball of roots, and damage avoided at all costs. That said, dead or diseased roots should be hacked off with a sharp instrument!” her last comment indicated to us that she has acknowledged the dead roots to her cacti, in this metaphor the dead roots are her ex-husband and the cacti is her life, must be removed immediately and that she is working on getting this done. Tiggy once fell into the hole of the community’s expectancy towards women, but found her way out and away from the pressures implanted against her through the help of her cacti, as “[Her Cacti] ha[ve] pulled [her] through the relentless pain of [her] existence”. Murray-Smith has shown though Tiggy how even the smallest things, such as finding a hobby or a group of people, can help you understand what is needed to be addressed before action can take place in one’s life to create peace.

Within the last monologue of ‘Bombshells’, by Joanna Murray-Smith, the focal character is Zoe Struthers. Zoe is interpreted to be preforming a show on her comeback tour. Throughout her monologue, Zoe sings and talks about her husband leaving her for her stylist, the fire that destroyed her home, her mother’s death-bed confession, her father not being her real father, the daughter she gave up for adoption, and her substance abuse. Although Zoe has been through so much, she tells her audience that she’s “not defeated at all” and that “a lot of the media doubted that [she] would be back”, indicating at how she strode through the challenges thrown at her and returned to where she belonged, even when people thought she’d never be able to do it, but openly admitted to her audience that “there was a time there [she] would have agreed with them.” Zoe has battled against so many expectations thrown at her, to the point where no one knew what to expect, and apparently neither did she when she mentioned that she “didn’t really know who [she] was anymore.” Murray-Smith outlined the many bumps in the road for Zoe, giving her monologue so many chances to end on a negative, but Zoe had overcome so much more than speculated by the people – the media. Her monologue empowers the idea of self-belief and during the time of her low point, Zoe said to herself, “Zoe, you can crawl into the gutter and give up or you can look yourself square in the eye and stop feeling sorry for yourself”, and she did just that, pushing through her demons that she once gave into, and she came out on top. Joanna Murray-Smith illustrates the assumptions created throughout her monologue, to break Zoe down to nothing. The media claimed “she’s over. She’s washed up” and tried to get to her, through her nineteen-year-old daughter, Deirdre, but all she has to say to that is, “I hope that Deirdre will find it in her heart to stop saying those things to entertainment weekly about me and learn to accept me who I am, instead of who I was.” Murray-Smith ends Zoe’s monologue with an empowering feeling towards it, providing the idea that even though there are people telling you one thing, if you are true to yourself, you will come out on top, alike to Zoe throughout her monologue.

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