Cloud 9

Characters

Betty

Characters Betty

While Clive is the focus of Act I, Betty is the focus of the play as a whole. Churchill thoroughly illustrates Betty's journey from subservience to independence. Betty of Act I, who is played by a man, is, quite literally, an image of the male values that have been imposed upon her. She does have private desires of her own, but Clive's control of her renders her too weak to act upon those desires. In Act I, Betty believes that the protection and support that Clive provides outweigh the beneficial liberties that would come from her leaving him.

In Act II, Betty is far more liberated than in Act I. She is now played by a woman, which possibly suggests that she is now more in touch with her femininity. Betty is not totally free from her past. She still adheres to certain traditions of child-rearing and sexuality. Indeed, Act II is largely about Betty's reconciling past and present. She is the only representative of her generation in the second act, so she faces a different set of issues than do her children. Betty's liberation will be more difficult because of her age and her ties to Clive and to the old way of life that he represents. In seeking her identity, Betty must actively reject her past by divorcing Clive.