Churchill’s descent into madness

In analyzing Churchill’s play, Far Away, societal descent into paranoia and madness becomes a prevalent and reoccurring theme. Ironically, madness escalates in an orderly manner starting at the very beginning of the play. What Joan first perceives as a brutal beating committed by her uncle is transformed by her aunt into a structured and rational event to which Joan’s uncle was in fact right to beat a man in his barn, and in keeping what first appear to be “prisoners”. I disagree with this first premise entirely. I don’t believe extreme violence is ever an appropriate response, no matter the situation. Even if Joan’s uncle was beating a traitor on the side of the enemy, would a quick execution have sufficed rather than a brutal and semi public beating? This is a foreshadowing of Act 2 where the situation has escalated tenfold. Executions are apparently now very public, and elaborate hats decorate the heads of those marked for death. Ironically so, the systematic execution of “enemies” is portrayed in complete madness. There can’t be a rational explanation for what happens in this scene – yet somehow the audience must believe in the rationality of the cause, herein lies a powerful contradiction. Act three extrapolates on the madness escalating throughout the play. Now the entire world is at war, and seemingly natural events are in fact horrible attacks. Inanimate objects begin to attack living things, and the world has lost its mind. We arrive at this conclusion through a seemingly rational explanation, a cause for war. While the war begun as a rational series of events, soon madness took hold and there is no return in Act 3. The audience, in the last lines of the play, are left to make their own decision; believe the hype or accept nature. The attached video is a school project assembled by a student which used other video clips to assemble a compilation video of what Far Away entails. I think it does a good job at communicating tone and message, although I don’t find it to depict an accurate synopsis of he play.


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