Language in Vinegar Tom

Topics: Culture

Caryl Churchill uses different types of language throughout the play to give depth to and display the emotions of the characters in Vinegar Tom. This can be seen from the offset of the play in which Alice talks to the man passing through the village. The Man The man’s opening line is; ‘am I the devil? ‘ asked to Alice. She does not seem to understand and so he continues, ‘I’m the devil. Man in black they say,’ the man would seem to lack confidence and this is something Churchill builds on in the next few lines; ‘Have I not got great burning eyes then?

‘ ‘Is my body not rough and hairy? ‘ ‘Didn’t it hurt you? Are you saying it didn’t hurt you? ‘ He clearly has a low self esteem and is self conscious of in the way he looks and the size of his penis.

These are all things he is worried by but the root of all his fears are revealed after these initial worries.

The line ‘So you think that was no sin we did? ‘ reveals religion to the conversation. The man is confused by religion. People at the time were not sure weather to be Protestant or Catholic.

He talks of how one of his family was burnt for being Catholic so they became Protestant and one burnt for that to. He is afraid of his sins. That is why he was asking if he was the devil at the beginning, because he was afraid that the sin they had committed was so bad that he was becoming the devil or that the devil was going to get him for it, ‘sometimes I think the devil has me.

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‘ He is afraid that his sins are going to far. He calls Alice a whore and then begins to leave and curses at her, ‘Devil take you, whore, whore, dammed strumpet, succubus, witch!

‘He sees her as one of his sins and is disgusted by her. He shouts and then leaves. Alice When Alice meets the man for the first time she uses a pet name for him. She does this because she does not yet no his name. She asks him ‘What sweet? ‘ and calls him ‘Darling. ‘ She is friendly and polite to him, she listens to what he has to say and defends him from his own self confidence like; ‘It seemed a fair size, like other men’s. ‘ and ‘I don’t like a man too smooth. ‘ She does this to be friendly and because she wants the man to stay with her.

When he begins to leave she begs him to stay saying, ‘Your not going? ‘ ‘Stay with me,’ ‘please. ‘ Alice is a kind person and lonely, she is so desperate for a man that she doesn’t see that she’s been used. He has to knock her down before she becomes resentful of him. She curses at him, ‘Go to hell then go to the devil, you devil. ‘ This is very serious language for the time the play is set in as people were very afraid of hell and of the devil. Alice is furious and upset by the man and her language is used to reflect her mood. Jack Jack is a cruel and evil man.

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Language in Vinegar Tom. (2018, Jan 19). Retrieved from

Language in Vinegar Tom
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