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Boesman And Lena By Athol Fugard: Representation Of Violence And Its Effect On Main Protagonists

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In “Boesman and Lena” (1973), Athol Furgad represents violence as something that produces confusion and disorientation; fear and frustration for Boesman and it also produces emotional pain; and desperation and despair for Lena. In addition, Furgard represented violence as a product of apartheid. Therefore, this essay will discuss Furgard representation of violence as it produces the above mentioned emotions, focusing on how Boesman is affected by his own physical violence and how it also affect Lena as Boesman’s girlfriend and the victim of his violence. This essay will also discuss the cause of Boesman’s violence as Furgard blames it on apartheid. Thus, this essay will firstly discuss how Furgad has associated violence with confusion and disorientation as Boesman get confuse and lost in his sense of direction by his own physical violence; secondly, it will discuss Boeman’s frustration and fear of going to prison, as Furgard represented violence as it produces fear and frustration; thirdly, this essay will discuss how Boesman’s violence affect Lena as Furgard has associated violence with emotional pain; fourthly, it will continues with discussing Lena, as she is desperate for a witness at the same time suffering in despair; and lastly, this essay will discuss how Furgard has represented violence as a product of apartheid.

Furgad represents violence as something that produces confusion and disorientation because Boesman is confused by his own physical violence, therefore leaves him disorientated. In Act 1 Furgad represent Beosman’s character as a brave and confident man, who portrait his masculinity through violence as he hit Lena (his girlfriend) in order to alleviate his anger. On the contrary, Boesman is affected by his own physical violence because it leaves him feeling confuse and disorientated. Furthermore, there is confusion around violence in the given extract when Boesman ask “why do I hit you?”, the fact that he asks “why” indicates that he is confused by his own violence. He does not know why he hit Lena; therefore, he has lost his sense of direction because he repeats the question “why” three times which emphasizes the confusion that he has about his own violence. Boesman himself is unaware of why he behaves violently all the times. Therefore, through Boesman, Fugard is associating violence with confusion. In addition, the stage direction says that Boesman “pauses”, the fact that he “pauses” also indicates that Boesman is confused and has lost his sense of direction hence he “pauses” because he has to think about “why” he does that, therefore he is disorientated and confused. Furthermore, the act of him “hit ting him self” is also another way of trying to find answers, hence when he hit himself in an attempt to find answers which he cannot find, produces “another blow” of confusion in him, which get even more harder as he repeatedly hit himself in a desperation of getting answers, on the contrary, getting himself extremely confused. Therefore, through Boesman, Fugard has represented violence as it produces confusion and disorientation. Furthermore, Fugard also represent violence as it produces fear and frustration because when Oata (the old man) died, Boesman got extremely frustrated and fearful. He hit Oata’s dead body because of frustration and he is afraid that he will be blamed for Oata’s death and be arrested for something he did not do. This is indicated when Lena says “you shouldn’t have hit him. You’ve made it worse for yourself” (1973), the fact that Boesman hit the dead body shows that he is afraid to go to prison, and it indicates that he has become the victim of his own physical violence through fear and frustration which led him to worsen thing for himself by hitting the dead body and leaves his “fingerprint” on the dead body. Therefore, furgard has represented violence as it produce fear and frustration through Boesman’s physical violence.

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Moreover, Boesman’s violence does not only affect him but it also affects Lena who is a victim throughout the play because she has experienced boasman’s fist and bruises. Furgard uses Boesman’s physical violence as something that causes emotional pain for Lena when she says “it hurt more than your fist; you know where you feel that one? She says ‘Inside’, where your fist can’t reach”. The word “inside” emphases that she is suffering emotionally, that she feels pain inside her, she is not happy physically and emotionally, she is weeping inside. Thus she emphasizes that “her life hurt” because she is not happy, especially with Boesman because of his physical violence toward her. This indicate that just as much as Lena needs Boesman for a shelter, however she is not safe around him because he brings pain to her life, letting Lena remains in despair. Through all these, it emphasize that violence produces more than just physical soreness, but it also produces emotional pain as well. Therefore, Fugard has represented violence as something that produces emotional pain, through Lena.

Furthermore, Fugard represent violence as something that produces desperation and despair because in Act one Lena is shown as a desperate woman when she says “I want my life back. Where is it?”, she desperately looking for her life and simultaneously she is in despair due to Boesman’s violence toward her. For this regard, life is associated with hope, however, Lena does not feel any hope because she “desperately” says that she is not “happy”, this indicates that she does not like her life the way it is, she is hopeless. Hence, she is desperately wanting to know “why” Boesman always hit her, what is her offence toward him that she can be abused in such a way. Perhaps founding out “why” Boesman hit her, can lead her in finding her life that she has lost to Boesman’s violence. In addition, Lena is also desperate for a witness that can testify in support of her to the police. Hence, Outa’s (the old man) appearance made Lena “excited” because there is third person now who can see and bear witness to this violence and she believes that Outa is her sever. Consequently, Lena desperately begs Boesman when she says “hit me. Please, Boesman” and she says “I’ve shown you the bruises, now watch” to the old man. This emphasize her desperation to have freedom and get her life back because if Boesman get arrested that will be her most achievement. However, Lena’s ambition is shattered when the old man dies before she can get help from him which leaves Lena in despair. Therefore, through Lena, Fugard has represented violence as something that produces desperation and despair.

Finaly, furgard represent violence as a product of apartheid through bulldozer which is a system of apartheid whereby people’s sharks were “demolished”, “smashed” and “burnt” by the Whiteman’s bulldozer and “chasing” people away from their own home because they feel that they can because they are superiors. Thus, Fugard blames Boesman’s violence on apartheid because this violent act has an impact on Boesman’s violence when he says that not only their sharks were burnt but also “us, our sad story, our smell, our world!. . . It burnt”, this emphasizes that Boesman’s violence is not just an anger or a bad behaver but it is a product of apartheid because it has develop hatred, anger in him which is influenced by the violence that occurred during bulldozer system. Particularly, the word “smashed” shows that Boesman’s violence is connected to apartheid because he also acted violently and “smashed” their shelter because of frustration and fear, this also indicates that Boesman’s freedom is limited thus he behave this violently toward Lena because he want to feels important and superior toward her, hence he uses his masculinity violently because he want to be recognized as a man. Therefore, Fugard has represented violence as a product of apartheid whereby he associated apartheid with Boesman’s violence.

This essay has greatly discussed Fugard’s play “Boesman and Lena”, as he associated violence with certain emotions discussed above. Furgad associate violence with confusion and disorientated as Boesman get confuse and lost in his sense of direction by his own physical violence; it has discussed Boeman’s frustration and fear of going to prison, as Furgard represented violence as it produces fear and frustration; this essay has discussed how Boesman’s violence affect Lena as Furgard has associated violence with emotional pain; it has also discussed Lena, as she suffered in despair due to a loss of her only witness; and finally, this essay has discussed how Furgard blamed Boesman’s violence on apartheid as he sees violence as a product of apartheid. Through all this, it shows that violence as product of apartheid is associated with various emotions that can destroys people’s life as it produces brutality within them. Therefore, Fugard has represented violence as something that produces certain emotions in “Boesman and Lena”.

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