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ENGLISH
Asked by K

Can you write an analysis on this quotation from a play called Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth. The analysis has to show how it depicts Johnny as an outsider in the play. The quote is ‘all Byron boys are born with teeth...and with their own cloak’?

Butterworth positions Johnny as a liminal figure in a multitude of ways: - the forest in which he lives represents an untamed past sense of English identity, now relegated to the outskirts of ‘acceptable’ expressions of consumerism and individualism (both Johnny and the forest represent a kind of community spirit and pagan festivity which is increasingly under attack due to the growth of consumerism and the fragmentation of communities and social ties in the wake of ideologies such as neo-liberalism which focus on individual achievement and success) - his crude behaviour (drinking, swearing, sexual activity, fights etc) can be argued as being either fetishistic of working class culture or as representing a proclivity fundamental within all of us towards these kinds of activities (characterised by the fact that characters seem drawn to both Johnny and ‘his’ wood) - his crude behaviour in turn, is juxtaposed with a sense of myth and legend which surrounds him and is never fully denied or confirmed; there is always a sense that there is a hint of truth to his seemingly ridiculous tales and the characters, however much they mock him, also seem to be in awe of him and his legend (enough for even Ginger who mocks Johnny relentlessly to be legitimately afraid of the consequences of banging the drum) These are all things to consider when analysing the quote. - “all Byron boys” draws the audience into an apparent legend and legacy behind Johnny and his lineage, which in turn evokes the sense of an ancient England in which lineage was central and legends were centred around ancestors and predecessors; he seems like an outsider in this sense as he is the only character with a sense of legend and history to him, all of the others are individualistic to some extend and seem to exist independent of history and family/communal roots - “born with teeth... and with their own cloak”, again this is another instance of what first seems like Johnny’s ridiculous fictional tales, but there continues to be doubt as to whether they are truly fictional or not - another thing to think about is the symbolism of the cloak and what it could possibly represent? - it may be useful here to look into figures of Celtic/British mythology and folklore as Butterworth definitely models Johnny partially on figures such as the green man/Robin Hood/Puck and Falstaff (from Shakespeare) If you are able to choose the quote yourself for the analysis you may be better going with the initial exchange between Johnny and the council officials or a conversation between him and Wesley as in these instances he is placed in direct opposition with the figures of the state ‘insider’ in the case of the council officials, or an individual passing as an insider (Wesley) who still seems to desire aspects of the chaos Johnny represents Let me know if you need any more help, I hope this was useful

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Isabelle Walker
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