Billy Liar is a story about a young man not strong enough to cope with to reality. Billy lives in his own secluded bubble where every thing will work out fine and he can lie and live as recklessly as he likes, hence “Billy Liar”.During the play we see Billy become more and more tangled up in his problems and in his troubles, it seems that the more he struggles the harder it becomes to cut himself free.The authors Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse composed the play in 1960 and it was re-published in 1998.
During the 1960’s we saw the removal of the National Service, which was seen as a great victory for peace movements, which had been formed after the World War.However for the people that had not seen the World Wars it was seen as an action of freedom. Especially amongst the younger generation… or children. I think an example of one of these children is Billy.There to provide another layer of freedom was “the pill”.
It was also seen by the younger generation as an act of freedom, and why not? They could have sex as freely as they liked. This was seen as a sexual revolution amongst the public. Perhaps this is reflected in the play with Billy and his three girlfriends, he does try and seduce them in the performance, and bear in mind that he is not married and is still a teenager.I think the 1960’s was the time when the older generation that were brought up with “sex only in marriage” and “children should be caned for an hour upon disrespect to their elders” were dying out along with their views and arguments. We see this in Florence (Billy’s Gran) when she finally gets a word in.”Mucky Liz” as she is nicknamed by the people that know her isn’t even “mucky”. I think this re-enforces the fact that people believed women should only indulge in sex during marriage. This is a sign of the time.
The society in Bill Liar saw Liz as the local slag.Describing the CharactersBarbara:Barbara is the sort of person that was respectable and decent in 1960’s society as she is rather old fashioned and shy, not as goby as Rita, who is disrespectful to her elders as we read on page 69 and on, Rita says,”You can bring his rotten farther down”.Also we don’t see Barbara smoking; in fact, we see her eating oranges all the time and because it is so repetitive it adds to the comedy of the play.
Barbara is a lot like Alice we actually see them bonding on page 63 when there is just two of them together but they are interrupted by Billy before permanent changes between the two can take place.I think that Barbara is the complete opposite to Rita, this might be so because the authors want us to realise that Billy doesn’t care. How can you love two people the complete opposite?RitaThis girl is the most insulting person in the play. She is common, the girl 1960’s society doesn’t like to see.
She values the wrong items, she is too materialistic, and all the way through the play she only has eyes for the ring. I know this because she says,”You don’t get out of it like that. I want that ring.”Rita says this after Billy asks if she is breaking of the marriage.Rita is goby and loud mouthed, she goes round to Billy’s house on page 108 with Arthur and is shouting up at the windows at all hours. Rita has slept around and uses her brothers and family as threats even against Billy, and thir engaged. This tells us a lot about Rita.
LizThis girl is the girl that adventurous men would like, she’s not boring, she’s not dull and she’s not Barbara? If fact Liz has travelled, I know this because straight away when London is suggested she says,”I’ve got friends there, Billy. They’ll put us up.”This girl has ambitions and dreams! She wants to go places, she is an adventurer. London – she makes it happen where as Billy doubts it right from the start. He says,”If we could.”This gives us an idea of what Liz is really like. She knows a lot of people; in the film version she is saying hi to everyone she passes! This girl can bring out the truth in Billy and we don’t see that a right often.
Probably the only girl Billy has feelings for.What does each Girl Contribute to the Play?Barbara appears in act one and two of the play, Rita in one and two and Liz in act three.BarbaraI think that whilst the authors were writing this play they were trying to bring three very different girls into the play perhaps ranging from one extreme to the other. If this was so, then Barbara would be one extreme! She is beyond her age and very mature. Barbara gives very sophisticated comedy to the play and by this I mean that we do not laugh at what she says or does, we laugh at the way she is. Barbara is very simple and I think she is defiantly meant to bring comedy to the play, otherwise what would the oranges be there for? For instance during the death of Billy’s grammar she still manages to eat an orange. I think she is an example of what the elders expected of girls in the sixties, sweet and innocent.
I think that in terms of pace, Barbara is slow and not very exciting. I mean this literally as well, she seems to add extra words into her speech, just like an elderly person would such as,”Come on Billy.”When it could just be,”Come on.
“I think that the further we go back in language the less abbreviations they were. That’s why I think old people tend to do what Barbara does. I think this helps us see an insight into what her personality is made up of.RitaJumping straight from one extreme to the other, we have Rita who is the complete opposite of Barbara. Which means that Rita is exactly what 1960’s society didn’t want.
Described by my fellow classmates as a tart I think that sums her up quite well, but also, I believe that Rita is someone that our society still doesn’t want today. She has her moral values off beam, for instance as I explained earlier she is obsessed with the engagement ring.I don’t think Rita was though up to make us laugh I firmly believe that she is there to be humourless and perhaps make the play a little more serious. Rita explains the problem with the youth of the sixties and I think she is there so that people can take a look from the distance and say, yea, we need change and discipline, this is what it’s coming to. Perhaps Rita is meant to be a wake up call.LizI think that on the scale of extremes Liz would be somewhere in the middle, she seems to be average or maybe represent the majority of the youth of the sixties.
I don’t think that Liz is meant to bring comedy to the play; I think she is there to bring romance and depth of feeling to the play, she is the only girl that understands Billy, for instance towards the end when they are talking in the garden and Liz asks about the book, she knows he’s lying.I think that she is perhaps mean to be a little bit mysterious and leave the viewers wondering about her upbringing and where she’s been. We know she’s been to London and that she is well travelled but that is it.Themes in the PlayBarbaraI think that Barbara contributes to no themes in the play what so ever. I think this mainly because she is not a stereotype like Rita is. If she serves a theme then it would be one that not many people can relate to, therefore it would not be a success as a play, after all we generally like plays, stories, movies etc that are either an inspiration to us or that relate to us.
Barbara is secure, comfortable and naï¿½ve, for instance when Alice is criticizing Billy we are told that Barbara “jumps to Billy’s defence.”RitaI think that Rita does help contribute to two themes in the play, the main theme and a sub-theme. When I read the play, I saw the main themes as, “don’t lie it gets you into trouble” and “trouble starts at the home”.We see Billy get into lots of trouble just because he is a compulsive liar, but we also see how Billy’s relationship has broken down with his parents which leads to a lot of upset, after all if his relationship with his parents had not broken down then, he would have never even thought of going off to London with Liz on the spur of the moment. I think it is a main theme because it affects a lot of the storyline and a lot of what goes on in the play.Overall I think that Rita is a stereotype of a parent’s worst nightmare.
Rita is rude and disrespectful.I think that she contributes to the first main theme I referred to of the play the most. Billy met her, got involved with her and got engaged to her. You marry because you love, and Billy got married for.
.. no known reason at all. So that was just one big lie, which got him into trouble, just as was the calendars and just as was the letter that his mum requested he post.As I have said before, I don’t think Rita was thought up to make us laugh, I think she is there as a wake up call due to her violent nature, she seems to think that is the way to resolve her problems!LizJust like Barbara I believe that Liz does not contribute to any theme in the play. After all she only appears for a short time in Act 3.
I do how ever; think that Liz brings some elements of romance to the play when she does appear. All though we see no actions of romance the way Liz and Billy communicate suggests that there is a source of real love and affection between them. For instance in act three the Billy asks why Liz did not ring and Arthur keeps asking question in which none of them answer and carry on with their conversation. I think this shows romance because when visually watching a couple on TV and reading in books it is always a way that directors use to show that there is affection.
Liz is a free spirit, one of these people that is likely to say, “The world is my oyster” .ConclusionI can confidently say that I do not believe that Liz and Barbara have been stereotyped. I think that Barbara has been modified and configured to bring comedy and that Liz has to been changed to bring romance to the play.I noticed my-self using the word society and talking about how people if the 1960’s were, for this reason I believe that the play relates to the 1960’s and is about the 1960’s, it is relevant to contemporary society.