The Wasp Factory

Antiheroes and Their Identities: Comparing Jerusalem and The Wasp Factory. 12th Grade

The concept of the antihero is central to both Jerusalem and The Wasp Factory. By exploring their identities, the writers expose issues related to the society their protagonists are surrounded by. In his modern, realist play, Butterworth creates Johnny Byron - a Romany traveller who, whilst being perceived as a gypsy drug dealer by outsiders is a much more complex character with a strong sense of identity and morality. By juxtaposing these two sides of his protagonist, Butterworth asks important questions about British culture, from how fatherhood and masculinity are viewed, to whether we have a social system that predetermines the roles people play. Banks presents us with Frank, ‘a teenage sadist’, the victim of complex psychological manipulation, in his ‘gothic horror story’ to challenge social norms by asking what exactly it is that constitutes sanity and whether it is relative to the person, and exploring the relationships between gender, sex and identity.

The isolation of a character is a powerful influence in the development of the antihero - Both settings that surround the characters are cut off from the rest of conventional society. Butterworth immerses Johnny in a green world; a ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ type haven...

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