Love & Anger

Love & Anger

by George F. Walker

  • Language: English
  • Category: Uncategorized
  • Rating: 4.20
  • Pages: 104
  • Publish Date: December 1st 1990 by Coach House Press
  • Isbn10: 0889103690
  • Isbn13: 9780889103696

What People Think about "Love & Anger"

Before his stroke Maxwell was a lawyer who was a partner in a large firm. This man was also a partner in the firm and most likely the father of Max's children.

I understand that many will read or see the play and judge it a satiric attack on power, lust, and greedthe usual triumvirate of the awfulembodied in its characters Sean Harris and John Connor. One would have to ignore much of how the play begins, for instance, for it begins with the ostensible foremost good and enlightened character, Peter Maxwell, indulging in just these same vices. Connor is willing to believe Sarah when she suggests, as part of an effort to manipulate him, that Maxwell might be envious (50) of him; but though vice-prone, he has no real cause to be envious, for the play begins by showing just how much he actually acquired through descent. Though Maxwell wants us to imagine them as consisting not just of the disadvantaged but of the quasi-exotic, the pathetic, the dregs (30-31), and though Harris deems Maxwells new clientele more reason to pity him, to not draw the law down upon him, the only client of his we actually encounter provides him something he likely did not possess with any surety with his previous clientelenamely, clear evidence of his power over them. Indeed, though the play concerns Maxwells life after having left his old law firm, it still reminds us of what previous clientele contact could have been like by showing us how Harriss new client, Connor, reacts when he believes hes being poorly served. When confused and confounded by Sarahs behavior towards him, Connor turns to Harris and exclaims: Look, youre my lawyer and I want some answers from you right now! With Gail, Maxwells new client, however, though she shows some dismay with her lawyeri.e., Maxwelltoo, she is readily made quiescent, for she is vastly more dependent on hers than Connor is on his own. And when Harris visits them we are made to appreciate how these ostensibly now completely different men still share the exact same life goals. Maxwell believes himself on a very different track than the one Harris still resides on, and there is cause to mistake them as vastly dissimilar from one another. Maxwell has stripped himself of his earthly goods; Harris new pursuit is built on all he had accumulated: he will use the friends and reputation he has acquired from being an established lawyer to launch a career as a politician. Maxwell locates himself in the gutters and associates with the destitute; Harris seeks new mountain-tops and takes on increasingly affluent and powerful clients (i.e., Connor). Maxwell believes that with his new life he has regained his childhood. In short, the play provides very good reason for understanding these two men as not so different from one another as they prefer to believe is the case. But we should not believe him in this, for Harris theft is actually advantageous for Maxwell. In pursuit of a new life path, Maxwell seeks to shorn himself of all that ties him to a previous one he associates with death. If Harris own path wasnt predicated on accumulation, Maxwell might actually owe him one for taking his wife (a wife, we note, he thought a jerk 31) and kids off his hands. By having Maxwell argue that his humiliation could be completed either by his bending down and kissing Harris ass or by Harris bending down and kissing Maxwells, the play suggests that who exactly is using whom here may not be so clear. More than this, with the humiliation accomplishable regardless of who does the bending down and who the remaining upright, the play encourages us to assess Maxwells descent and Harris ascent as interchangeable; as means to the very same end. (Harris accuses him of having spread outrageous, bullheaded, unsupportable, inflaming crap about Connor, and given what we see of Maxwell, we do not doubt the accuracy of these characterizations.) Both claim the same turf: theyre ostensibly all about serving the needs of the lower classes. Maxwell would be their legal and moral crusader, Connor their guide to all they need know of the world. Maxwell is looking for adventure (he will identify his activities as an adventure 42), he has given away all his goods, he has a wife now sleeping with another man, he believes he is immune (32) to persecution, he has entered an unfamiliar part of town and set up headquarters there, he has argued that his turn to the dark side in law school resulted from a force having taking him over, he believes himself finally back (26) to being the man he once was, he has made the whole city aware of his opinion of Connor, and he has his mind on the reorganization of an entire culture (29). Sarah believes she is fair, not prejudicial (79), but she too is shown using the trial to humiliate Connor and Harristhe same need she attended to earlier by fooling them into thinking she was a lawyer (Well that just shows how stupid you are. Mel Gussow, for one, in a review for the New York Times, argues that the play is self-defeating, for as the lawyer Maxwell .