Dylan Thomas further explores the depiction of society in the people of Llareggub through Captain Cat, the very controversial central character of Under Milk Wood. Cats can allegedly see in the dark and thus Captain Cat, though blind, serves (along with the First Voice and Second Voice) as a narrator whereby the audience, too, is able to ‘see’ a different world as Captain Cat sees it. Captain Cat is an elderly sea captain who towards the end of the play confesses that he has never, in fact, been a sailor: “I’ll tell you no lies. /The only sea I saw/Was the seesaw sea/With you riding on it.
” (p. 16) This extremely unexpected admission, although it comes as a surprise to the audience, is not an exceptionally shocking or appalling one. The audience does, of course, feel pity towards Captain Cat. However, we may also feel compassion towards the character and identify with his situation. This is because many of us have probably already lied about some part of our lives or ourselves and perhaps even, as a result of keeping that lie over a longer period of time, after a while been unable to separate the truth from the untruth, thus perhaps believing the lie to be real.
Therefore, Dylan Thomas may be condemning this very human part of us, as the memory of what is true appears in Under Milk Wood to destroy Captain Cat. In the midst of gossip, Fourth Woman, a relatively unimportant character with few lines states: “There’s a nasty lot live here when you come to think. ” (p. 11) Although this line is delivered in a sort of offhand way, the meaning of the line itself may reveal much about the implication of Under Milk Wood and Dylan Thomas’ intentionsi??.
One may be of the opinion that by this line Dylan Thomas meant to make the audience consider the story’s various characters and their flaws. After all, despite their sins, Thomas’ characters are evidently quite alike (in at least some way) to most individuals of the audience. Although Thomas is, therefore, critical of our faults, he does not wish to attack them. Thomas appears to be of the opinion that one should be forgiven for one’s faults and thus accepted and loved for them, as is the case with Polly Garter, whom we find ourselves considering with a degree of pity, tenderness and affection.
In conclusion, the play Under Milk Wood may, indeed, be considered an indictment of society. However, one must consider that, although Dylan Thomas criticizes his characters throughout, the play as a whole recognizes that it is important to forgive one of one’s flaws.
The audience may therefore be inclined to believe that Under Milk Wood is simply a depiction of reality and thus displays the flaws and wonders of Llareggub’s townspeople; both of which are celebrated by the play overall.
Word Count: 1,129 Bibliography Footnotes: i?? – a concept further explored Jonathen Hamel’s and Danny O Snow’s commentary of Under Milk Wood on www. arch. org/milkwood. htm Books: Thomas, Dylan (1991) Under Milk Wood, J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd Websites: http://www. arch. org/milkwood. htm – 25/10/2003 http://jade. ccccd. edu/grooms/geirn1/htm – 25/10/2003 Samantha Sutherland Under Milk Wood – Dylan Thomas A1 English HL.