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Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.
In Act I, Churchill uses songs to heighten the satirical aspect of the play. The first song, "Come Gather," suggests a blind, comic loyalty to England. Later, Joshua sings "In the Deep Midwinter" about a world he does not know. Clive's brainwashing has come as far to demand that an African sing British Christmas carols. "Boy's Best Friend" is a contrast to how Edward truly feels about being a dutiful son. Each song highlights the hypocrisy of Clive's Africa. In Act II, the song "Cloud Nine," is a bit more truthful, depicting the characters as they learn to enjoy their world of sexual confusion.
In her stage directions, Churchill uses the act of embracing repeatedly as a physical means of demonstrating love or a lack thereof. Ellen embraces Betty as she expresses her love for her. Conversely, Edward rejects Betty's offer to embrace when he becomes ashamed for scolding Joshua. Churchill never instructs Clive and Betty to embrace, perhaps suggesting the superficiality of their relationship. At the end of the play, the two Bettys embrace, showing that Betty has finally grown to love herself.
In Act II, Churchill writes that the seasons change from scene to scene. These seasonal changes parallel the journey of the characters in many ways. Act II opens in winter. Like the climate, the characters are cold and their sexuality is dead in many ways. When spring arrives in Act II, Scene two, people begin to come out of sexual hibernation and begin challenging the status quo. Gerry and Edward break off their relationship, and Victoria and Martin begin to argue about the terms of their marriage. With summer comes sexual liberation. Lin, Victoria, and Edward hold an orgy in the park, and Betty rediscovers masturbation.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Cloud 9!