Dancing As Symbolism In Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold” … And The Boys

2096 words - 9 pages

Aziya T

Dancing as symbolism

in Athol Fugard's

"Master Harold" … and the boys

Athol Fugard uses dancing as a symbol of something of beauty in the lives of black natives in South Africa during Apartheid period in the play "Master Harold" … and the boys. Dancing ballroom becomes a dream world, where people try to be beautiful and gracious and try to survive and be the best even after they bump into racial tension with one another. Though, the whites try to lower the black's self esteem, native South Africans are able to develop their hope for the better through dancing. They abandon their own native cultural values for the European quickstep ...view middle of the document...

Don't confuse art and entertainment.

The boy simply doesn't understand that thin but strong connection between dancing and art, although he has a great mind, which is educated and is getting more matured. This is proved in the Line 472:

Hally: [He realizes he has got to be careful. He gives the matter a lot of thought before answering.] Philosophers have been trying to do that for centuries. What is Art? What is Life? But basically I suppose it's … the giving of meaning to matter.

You can see from the way the author puts this quote, that Hally is smart and developing his abilities to examine life's most important questions. But he is not quite deep enough to make right and thoughtful decisions and conclusions. That is why, Sam, who is more familiar with the rules of life, tries to teach Hally. He tries to explain that Dancing is not pretending to enjoy what you're doing, but is hard work to show what you are capable of and still be happy to have a chance to do so.

Line 542 says:

Sam: There's no collisions out there, Hally. Nobody trips or stumbles or bumps into anybody else. That's what that moment is all about. To be one of those finalists on that dance floor is like … like being in a dream about a world in which accidents don't happen.

The beauty of Dancing creates special aura of hope for the people who need it.

For the native South Africans, as they abandon their own cultural values for the totally different Caucasian traditions, dancing becomes a symbol of their acceptance of being a lower rank. Line 463 states:

Sam: You still haven't told me what's wrong with admiring something that's beautiful and then trying to do it yourself.

This simply proves that blacks have nothing else to look forward to in their lives. As whites discriminate their culture, blacks try to adopt what Europeans do, their dancing style. South Africans start to see it as the only occasion where they could be better than the whites think of them. In the whites prospective, black's helplessness is simply proving their superiority against the natives. Here is what Hally thinks of black people dancing in Line 511:

Hally: The war-dance has been replaced by the waltz. But it still amounts to the same thing: the release of primitive emotions through movement.

Young Hally develops his power as a master; he insults the natives, even when not knowing it. For the natives, this has become the usual everyday routine and they think that life cannot be worse. What Athol Fugard tries to say, is how significant a simple dance can become for the people that are broken. Line 586 states:

Hally: We've had the pretty dream, it's time now to wake up and have a good long look at the way things really are. Nobody knows the steps, there's no music, the cripples are also out there tripping up everybody and trying to get into act, …

Hally says the truth about what is really happening in the ballroom. Even though,...

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