Q: Write a note on the character of Willy Carson in the Sea!
The action takes place in 1907, in a small village on the East coast of England, and on the neighboring beach. As the play begins, a couple of young seamen, caught in a storm, capsize right off the coast. Colin, the elder, on his way to his betrothed, Rose Jones, drowns. Willy, his good friend, survives but is dazed, spiritually adrift. Willy finds himself drawn to the grief-stricken Rose. His character can be discussed under the following points.
Willy an Object of Suspicion
Willy is an object of suspicion because he arrives, in strange circumstances, from outside the village; Evens is equally suspect because, in removing himself from society to his hut on the beach, he has rejected the same social pressures that constrict Hatch-he has found a solution which Hatch, still grappling with them in his own way, is unable to accept. Evens and Hatch represent two extreme poles of social response, as Bond explained:
‘My play is pointedly about sanity and insanity, and the town represents the dilemma of entrapment. The 8o-year old man, Evens, is the sane one. The rest are manic about their entrapment.’
Willy obsessed with the loss of his friend becomes a lonely helpless person. He fined himself in a fix because he could not save Colin. Now he wants to find his dead body for which the only help is Evens because he is well versed in the moods of the sea and can tell where Colin’s dead body may possibly be flushed out. Willy’s condition is very much pathetic when comes to Evens and starts crying.
Willy sits down on a box and starts to cry into his hands. Evens looks at him for a moment and then goes slowly into the hut. Willy cries a bit longer before he speaks.
Willy: (trying to stop). So stupid – doing this-coming here and . . .
Evens: (inside the hut). Is there a proper place?
This small incident lays the ground for the vital conversation between them in the last scene.
Not Given Warm Welcome
Willy does not get a warm or soothing welcome. He comes to shore as an outsider whose adventure has meant the life of a neighbor. Rather than being pitied as a victim of a deluge and one in mourning for a friend, he is regarded as suspicious, as alien to the townspeople he meets as he is, perhaps literally, to Hatch.
A Compassionate Friend
In the opening scene, we find Willy a compassionate friend who is helplessly crying for help to save his friend with whom he was on a sea journey. His calling for help is neither answered by human beings nor assisted by the forces of nature. He is taken suspiciously by Hatch, the draper and sea coastguard. He asks for help and Hatch replies, “What are you up to?” This answer not only increases Willy’s helplessness but also shows Hatch’s skeptical nature. Bond’s audience knows right away Willy is a decent lad who accompanied a friend on a dangerous, and perhaps a foolish, journey that would have been safer and less calamitous if accomplished by land. Willy is continuously feeling for his friend Colin. He asks for help but Hatch keeps harping on his own tune.
Willy: Help. Help.
Hatch: I know who you are? You thought you wouldn’t be seen out here.
Willy: Help us.
Hatch: Go back.
Willy: Are you all mad. Where I’m?
Hatch: I knew you were coming. We’ll fight you, you filthy beast. (Willy turns back and goes back into the sea)
Willy: Colin. Colin. (Heavy guns fire some way out)
Hatch: The guns! They have brought the guns up! Hurrah!
A Foil for Hatch
The dialogues above show the different natures of two important characters of the play viz., Willy and Hatch. Willy is a foil to Hatch. He is restless as cannot do anything to save his drowned friend, Colin. Hatch not only neglects his duties as a sea coastguard but also feels happy over the helplessness of Willy.
A Considerate Companion
Surprisingly, the one who greets him the most congenially is Rose. Rose feels the loss of her fiancé deeply, but she has a wise perspective. In addition to embarking on a loving relationship, Rose had looked forward to ridding herself from the thrall of her aunt, Mrs. Rafi. Her time as Mrs. Rafi’s ward has been stifling, and Rose is too perceptive and honest to ignore the misery her aunt causes or the smallness of her surroundings. She is grateful to Willy for eventually having the chance to tell her the story of the wreck in person and recognizes qualities in Willy she admired in the man she must now go on without.
Willy, not a Traditional Hero
Willy is not a heroic figure as we know. He does not act like Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Dr. Faustus, Oedipus Rex, or Macbeth. He is a common man who does not belong to a royal family like King Lear, Hamlet, or Oedipus Rex nor does bear any stately relations like Othello or Macbeth. Even he is not a learned scholar like Dr. Faustus. He does not indulge in the social and financial struggle to live like Willy Loman of “Death of a Salesman”. He is neither a man like John Procter who lives with a moral scar and ultimately kisses the hangman’s rope to compensate for his sin. Willy is a simple man who laments the death of his friend, faces skeptical and, to some extent, inhuman attitude of Hatch, tries to console Rose over the death of her fiancée, and takes her out of an abnormal world.
A Lucky Person
Willy proves a very lucky person in the play. First, he is spared by the rough tempest that claims his friend Colin’s life. Second, Willy is saved from the violent knife attack of Hatch ta the beach. Hatch stabs Colin’s dead body talking it for Willy whom he considers an alien. Again, Willy is lucky, so to speak, for the third time when he finds Rose willing to go with him to live a peaceful life in a new world, a world that may not have people like Hatch and Mrs. Rafi.
Willy, a Window to the future
Through these turbulent times Willy, it seems, has learned to look forward. He seems ready to leave his past behind to embrace a normal future in a rational world. In this journey, he will be accompanied by Rose rather than Colin. He is going to do so because living excites him.
Rose: You missed drowning. You missed the draper’s knife. Does living excite you?
Willy: Shall I kiss you? (He kisses her in silence.)
Rose: In a dead man’s shoes.
Willy: The dead don’t matter.
Willy, a Rational and Cool minded person
We find Willy perturbed and a bit cynical at the very outset of the play. When unable to find help for his friend’s rescue, he utters: “Are you all mad? Where I am? But the rest of the action of the play he behaves very soberly. He forgets Evens’ attitude that he showed in the opening scene and befriends him. He does not show any personal grudge against Hatch even after the latter’s murderous attempt at him. He does not become a part of Mrs. Rafi’s provocations against Hatch. In short, we find Willy a person having the qualities of head and heart.