“Compare the worlds of the two texts you have studied and say which of the two worlds you would prefer to live in. Back up your answer with suitable reference to the text.”
The two texts I have studied for my comparative course are Eclisped by Patricia Burke Brogan and Brooklyn by John Crawley. In this essay I will compare the two texts and explain why I would prefer to live in the world of Brooklyn.
The first thing I will discuss about the two texts is the role of men and women. In Brooklyn, Eilis has a part-time job in Enniscorthy working in Miss Kelly’s shop and when she goes to America, she works as a shop assistant in Bartocci’s earning her own money and creating a career for herself. We see when she begins her night classes that Eilis is very intelligent and that she has a bright future ahead of her.
This is in contrast to the role of men and women in Eclipsed, where we see that the women, like Bridget are locked up away from their families in St. Paul’s Home for Penitent Women. Women in this text have no rights and are kept like prisoners in the home, forced to wash and iron the priests’ clothes and underwear showing how men had power over the women. Unlike Eilis, Bridget and the rest of the women have no future to look forward to and many like Nellie Nora, end up spending their lives locked away from society for simply having a baby.
From these two examples, it is clear that Brooklyn would be a much better place to live.
My second point is on the men that we witness in both texts, with Brooklyn showing positive male characters, while Eclipsed shows us a very negative image of men.
In Brooklyn, men like George Sheridan, Jim Farrell and Tony Fiorello are caring, respectful men, who treat women with courtesy and respect. We see how Tony worships Eilis and when she tells him about going back to Ireland, he instantly wants to get married showing how much he loved Eilis.
Jim Farrell, likewise falls for Eilis but he is very respectful of her wishes and despite Eilis’ initial opinion that he was a snob, he is a decent man who treats Eilis well. George Sheridan is also like the other two treating both Nancy and Eilis with respect.
The complete opposite is seen in Eclipsed as all the men we hear about are very disrespectful of women in general. The women tell Juliet about the dances and they tell her stories about men who have mirrors on their shoes in order to look up the skirts of girls. We also hear about how they grab women and laugh about it at the dance. We also see how Nellie Nora’s boss rapes her and gets her pregnant and forces her into the home, where she stays for the rest of her life. This is a very sad story and highlights how horrible the men in the text were.
Again, it’s clear that I would prefer to live in the world of Brooklyn, where men are respectful and women are treated with respect.
Religion plays a big role in both texts but it is seen very differently in both texts. Religion plays a positive role in the lives of the characters in Brooklyn, while there are negative consequences for those who follow religion in Eclipsed.
Father Flood is an Irish priest who is working in Brooklyn and it is him that arranges for Eilis to come to Brooklyn to start a new life. He sets her up with a job, an apartment and when she is feeling homesick, he manages to enroll her in a night school that helps to keep her mind off home. This generosity helps Eilis along the way and without the help of Father Flood she would not lead the kind of life she wanted to.
We also see the positive role played by the church on Christmas day when Eilis helps with serving the food for the men from the homeless shelter, showing the generosity of spirit that underpins the values of religion. We also see how comforting religion can be to people in a time of crisis, for example when Rose dies, we see the comfort that her mother takes from the funeral and the crowd that attended it.
There is a massive difference between Brooklyn and Eclipsed in the way that religion is presented. Religion is seen in a very negative light in Eclipsed and it is a religion that does not value women, especially those that have got pregnant outside of marriage.
We see how the women are forced to wash and iron the priests’ clothes and Mother Victoria refers to the priests as ‘Princes of the Church.’ She also continuously tells Sister Virginia that ‘no one wants these women,’ which reinforces the idea that these women are worthless in the eyes of the church.
We hear how a priest, on finding out that a local girl was pregnant, went to her house and walked up and down the street saying the rosary, highlighting that there was a sinner in the house. This type of behaviour is ridiculous compared to today’s standards and shows the control that the church had on people.
The very fact that these women are locked up against their will reflects very badly on the church and unlike Father Flood in Brooklyn, the church does its best to ruin the lives of those in the home. We see how the women are split up from their babies and in Bridget’s case, she never finds her Rosa, until she comes looking for her thirty years later. We see how Cathy sacrificed her life in order to try to be with her twins and Nellie-Nora, who was raped by her boss and was locked up for the rest of her life.
All of these examples show how horribly the church treated those who had got pregnant, yet the men who got them pregnant carried on with their lives as if nothing had happened. This is yet another reason why I would prefer to live in the world of Brooklyn.
The way in which families treat one another is also very different in both texts. In Brooklyn, Rose goes out of her way to help Eilis create a better life for herself. Rose ends up losing her sister and best friend when Eilis leaves for America but she does this to make Eilis’ life better.
The Fiorellos and the Laceys are very different families but it is very clear that they love each other and would do anything to help each other. This can be seen when Tony gets his little brother to help him write a letter to Eilis and we also see the warm and happy atmosphere in the Fiorellos when Eilis goes for dinner.
Families are seen in a very different way in Eclipsed. We see that Bridget’s brother was the one who dropped her off at the home knowing the hardships and pain she would endure. He did this because he was going to get married and news about a family member giving birth outside of marriage would have put his own wedding at risk. By putting Bridget in the home, he ensured that Bridget was separated from her daughter Rosa and that she became a bitter woman, who resented the notion of love.
Nellie Nora is another woman who has been disowned by her family for getting pregnant out of wedlock. We know from the play that Nellie-Nora was raped by her boss and then committed to the home when her boss found out she was pregnant. We see when the letters arrive for the women that Nellie-Nora doesn’t get any and says that it’s been so long she had a letter, she’d be in shock if one came. This shows that her family completely disowned her and that they put reputation above family. This would not have happened in Brooklyn, where we see the likes of Rose put family before their own happiness. This is another reason why I would prefer to live in the world of Brooklyn as opposed to the world of Eclipsed.
For all of the above reasons, it is very clear that Brooklyn would have been a much better place to live than the world of Eclipsed.