Plays of British Dramatist, Pam Gems Dissertation

Pages: 125 (46193 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 28  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Drama - English


Edith once engages two marines she meets in a pub in a menage a trois; it is possible, that the bartender formed the fourth of this group. There is no indication that Edith is particularly gifted in the art of making love. She just makes her self available as a willing sexual partner. Except with Marcel Cedran, the married boxer, Edith manages to dissociate physical pleasure from any emotional foundations. With Marcel, Edith is truly in love. But this union is not to be. Anecdotes abound, that Edith's jealous sister informs Marcel's wife of her husband's "philandering." Edith's sexual proclivities and escapades are not a manifestation of her femaleness. Her sexual nature transcends gender. It is a flaw in most superstars. In Edith's case, particularly, sexuality has a fatalistic quality to it. Just as when she was young, sex was a mere exercise. Except as she got older and more famous, her partners got more out of sex with her. Her flaws balanced out her enormous talent.

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TOPIC: Dissertation on Plays of British Dramatist, Pam Gems Assignment

Toine, on the other hand, uses sexuality as a desperate attempt to get out from under the yoke of poverty and lower class stature. Antoinette is not mentioned in any of Edith's autobiographies. Toine possibly represents a whole group of women with whom Edith grew up and surrounded her self. These women viewed prostitution as the only way of earning a living and securing a financial future, especially if they were able to attract a husband who would provide for them. Toine, and other women who became prostitutes, did not have the prodigious talent of Edith. Edith probably had the confidence in her abilities; Toine did not have any special abilities. Eventually, Toine ends up happy. Despite her career choice, she is a virtuous woman. Her virtues are what really define women. With Edith, her femaleness conflicts with her stardom. The stardom wins out and overshadows her femininity. We do realize that, at least Edith had the courage of her conviction and her abilities. Toine was a regular woman who made the best of what she had. She was a kind, caring and giving woman. Consider the situation when Toine took over having sex with the legionnaire so that Edith could make her appointment. This was a considerable sacrifice to which most women, no matter what their social status, would not acquiesce. Having meaningless sex with some one with whom Toine had no emotional connection was probably not a big jump for Toine. She was after all a prostitute. What is important is that in taking Edith's place, Toine did not seek any financial restitution. Toine's sacrifices are rewarded. Eventually, she meets a man who is willing to overlook what she did for a living. He marries her; she has children. Her aim in life is fulfilled. We know that Edith absolutely refused to prostitute her body for money. But, what if she never did get her break? She had the talent and the flaws to go with it. What if she were to spend her entire life like the street singer her mother was? At what point might she have decided that nobody recognized her talent. In that case, finding no other recourse, she might have sought giving sexual favors as a way to earn money.

Edith saw herself as a budding talent. She sings on the streets to anyone who will listen. Getting a break while belonging to a largely, forgotten section of society is difficult. In that respect, she was lucky. As her career takes off, she gets more fame and fortune. But then her demons begin to come to the fore. She is weak. In fact, apart from her talent and stardom, Pam Gems really casts Edith as a weak woman who is unable to overcome her flaws despite all the breaks she is given. She gets badly addicted to drugs and alcohol. Her stardom, in a way, also becomes her failing. If she were not so rich and famous, her friends and loved ones might have staged an intervention to try to get her out of the substance abuse that was robbing her of her youth and everything else that she had struggled to accomplish. But her stardom made her stand tall and rise above the people around her. The company she kept consisted of people who fed off her stardom offering nothing of substance in return. Since she paid for their lifestyle, they would not dare confront this woman about her problems. Rather, they were enablers. One might believe that throughout her life Edith let her self be used and abused. The one person who might have truly loved her could not be with her -- Marcel. By the time Edith married her second time, it was conceivable that she was past caring. Theo was a fawning enabler who was more stars-struck than considered himself as Edith's equal partner in her second marriage. The other Marcelle in her life, her son, was dead. Working for her son's welfare would have given Edith's life some direction. Unfortunately, he died. Edith was once again deprived of true love. One might also imagine that Edith Piaf's every action was designed to punish her self for the foibles of the past. She perhaps, never forgave her self for creating conditions that allowed her son to be taken away from her so that he died in her absence, in the presence of strangers. Any of the abuse that Edith put her self through could have been avoided if she has put her foot down. We know that she was capable of making the right choice. We know that she put her foot down against becoming a prostitute so that she might work towards fostering her talent.

Essentially, there are no feminine qualities of Edith Piaf's that are worth emulating. If one strips her essence of her talent as a performer, she is a weak shell of a human being. Every other character, especially the women are strong. We know that Toine is happy when she finds what she has been looking for. We know that she is caring and giving. We know that she always held a soft, nurturing spot for Edith. Even in a drug-befuddled mind, Edith remembers the one person who might help her and sends for her. Toine responds immediately by coming to the aid of her friend. One might wonder if Edith would have gone to Toine's aid if she needed help.

Stardom, while being Edith's downfall because she saw herself, as most stars do, as larger than life, was also her one saving grace. Edith was without compassion; her maternal instincts kicked in too late. Her talents got her what she wanted from life.

Contrast Edith's life with that of Madeleine. Madeleine is Edith's maid, especially after she becomes famous. One can imagine what Madeleine is going through. Unlike Toine who was probably born on the streets of Paris, Madeleine probably came from a village in France. But like Toine, Madeleine grew up impoverished. Madeleine probably did not have the enormous talents that would be required to make it big.

Also like Toine, Madeleine wanted to get out of the cycle of poverty and lower social class in which she was unfortunate enough to be born. When she signs on as Edith's maid; she is perhaps star-struck. This is probably a moment in her life she never imagined -- being in the company of the greatest singer of that generation. But with this also comes problems. She has to bear witness to the fact that her mistress was slowly killing her self with substance abuse. She also had to bear the brunt of Edith's temper tantrums. But throughout it all she maintains a sweet disposition. She is generous and kind. She is very helpful. Her femaleness as a persistent, generous person can be contrasted with the enablers and other ne'er do wells that Edith was always bedding. Madeleine was there for Edith whenever she needed her. She was aware that her tenure in Paris was at Edith's pleasure. She was very efficient at her work. While everybody remembers Edith Piaf through the wonderful legacy of songs she left behind, Madeleine would not even merit a footnote in a Piaf biography. But Pam Gems resurrects her to show that she was the essence of femaleness.

Josephine, the lounge singer and club owner is also introduced into the play to identify with unique femaleness. Josephine is also talented, but probably not as much as Edith. While Madeleine would identify with the proletariat, Josephine is bourgeois. But in their own way they protected and nurtured Edith in her career. Josephine gave Edith several breaks, allowing her to sing in her club while she was on her way to stardom. She could have brought several obstacles in Edith's way. After all Edith was competition.[END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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