The Family Reunion, T. S. Eliot’s second full-length play, is a significant contribution to the world of verse drama. After Murder in the Cathedral (1935), Eliot declined all invitations to write more religious, historical dramas. He chose instead to attempt a synthesis of religious and secular drama on a contemporary theme. The Family Reunion was his first effort in that direction.
As in most of Eliot’s plays, the characters in The Family Reunion represent four basic role types: pilgrims or martyrs, witnesses, watchers, and tempters. Harry Monchensey, the play’s pilgrim, is the only character to experience growth or at least a turning point. Harry learns to take the way of self-denial to discover redemption for himself and his community; he learns that he must perfect his will and deny himself the comfortable life of Wishwood, which would prevent him from reaching his spiritual potential. Harry functions as the center of a concentric pattern representing the integration of spiritual values with temporal ones. Harry is surrounded by four witnesses—Agatha, Mary, Downing, and Dr. Warburton—who in various ways aid and reveal Harry’s progress. These four characters function like points on the face of a clock on which Harry is the pivotal point, a clock that symbolizes the new order of time he ushers into Wishwood. The walk Mary and Agatha take around the birthday cake at the end of the play portrays this new order.
In contrast to the witnesses, the watchers—Ivy, Violet, Gerald, and Charles—see much on the surface but choose to ignore the inklings of spiritual insight they encounter. They form a second concentric pattern around Amy Monchensey, who represents frozen, lifeless time. In her effort to persuade Harry to sacrifice his life to maintain her illusory world at Wishwood, Amy is the tempter. When the aunts and uncles stand around at the end of the play after Amy’s death, they betray their incapacity to move beyond old patterns of merely doing “the right thing.”
The characters in Eliot’s second full-length drama resemble those in his first, but their pattern of distribution is different. Eliot’s most important innovation in characterization is his employment of the...
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From the moment we start to exist, we belong to a family. Small or large, blood-related or adopted, our family influences much of who we are and what we experience in our lifetime. Before December 2004, much of my family didn't know me. I had only met a few of my relatives when I was younger. The visit of my great grandmother for Christmas that year brought about the opportunity to meet several new family members.
Knowing how much it would mean to my great grandmother (whom I call Grandma Luellen) to see her brother Ernie and sister Ruth, my mom and dad arranged with my great, great aunt to have dinner with them and to let my grandma stay with them for two days. When the time came, it took us about an hour to drive to their home in Oakley, California. The outside area of their small farm home had a good first impression on me, although it was hard to see because rain clouds darkened the evening sky. There were two houses, one in which my great, great aunt and uncle lived, and the other in which their daughter lived with her family. Once inside my uncle's house, my mom, dad, and I met the family. There was Grandma Luellen's brother, Ernie, and his wife, Louise; Grandma Luellen's sister, Ruth; Ernie's daughter, Sandy, her husband, Rick, and their daughter, Megan.
At any family gathering, you will find that talking and "chit-chat" is a major pastime. With the snap of a finger, we all found ourselves snacking away while we talked about various things. We got a tour of the house, and soon sat down for dinner, accompanied by more discussion. After a meal similar to Christmas dinner, we all sat down to talk some more.
It was very interesting to hear my great grandma, great, great uncle, and two great, great aunts talk about life during the Depression, but after a while, I got bored. Unfortunately for me, when I get tired or bored, it is very noticeable. Rick seemed to recognize this, and, in a kind effort to cheer me up, he offered to take us on a tour of his house. First, we went to his office where he kept his bird, Sunny. He had Sunny shake hands, and, along with a few other tricks, even had him poop on command for us! He also had a salt water aquarium filled with all sorts of marine life. Rick showed us the rest of his house and let us pet his black, curly-haired dog. As it began to rain again, we trotted our way back to the other house where everyone still chatted.
Even with the excitement of the "party," there always comes a time to say goodbye. We were leaving great grandma behind. I knew I would miss her. Leaving, no matter how badly you want to go, is always a hard thing to do. We discussed many last minute topics such as my great grandma moving to South Dakota, and getting together again. It was late and raining outside; and after a few final farewells, we left.
Even with the hard, pouring rain, we managed to get home safely, and I went to bed thinking about the wonderful time I had had, hoping to do it again soon. It was a significant change for once, to know some more of my family. Still, I was not as close to any of them as I was to Great Grandma Luellen, but more of these family gatherings would surely change that. It had been a gathering to remember.