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January 29, 2022, 06:10:48 am

Author Topic: 'Cosi' Practice Essay - Could someone read this and give some feedback?  (Read 2335 times)  Share 

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Hey, I've just written my first text response piece for Cosi. Could someone read through it and give it a mark out of 50?

Roy is the most effective manipulator in the play. Discuss.

In many ways, Roy is a very potent manipulator in the play Cosi, by Louis Nowra. However, he is by no means the most effective manipulator in the play. Roy succeeds in manipulating the mental patients, as well as the protagonist, Lewis, into performing the play Cosi Fan Tutti. He also cultivates a false representation of his childhood within his mind, which he manipulates himself into perceiving as reality. However, in some cases the manipulation that Roy demonstrates proves to be ineffective when compared with some of the other patients.

Roy is an extremely forceful character in Cosi, and ensures that his views are heard by the others at every opportunity. Roy’s suggestion that the patients perform the opera Cosi Fan Tutti is immediately rejected by some of the other patients. However his manipulation, in the form of tenacity and, to some extent, abuse, is rather potent in convincing the other patients to perform the opera. He is extremely forceful in his views, and very often he imposes his views on others.  Roy comments that “[he’ll] win [the other patients] over,” despite the majority of the patients leaving the theatre at his proposition, suggesting that he is quite confident in his ability to manipulate to achieve his goals. However, it is questionable as to whether or not this can be classified as manipulation, as the patients already had some ulterior motives for doing the play. Julie comments that she prefers “[the theatre] to the ward,” which is perhaps very similar to the others.  This is due to the neglect that mental asylums received in this period of time. In this way, while Roy can be considered the most effective manipulator in the play, in this instance there were other factors which facilitated his persuasion.

In order to ignore the harsh “early life in orphanages and being farmed out to foster parents,” only to be returned rather expeditiously, Roy has cultivated some more ‘preferable’ memories. Roy comments that, in his childhood, he experienced “tea parties... servants dancing on fingertips, [and] French tutors,” among other things. But we as the audience are made aware that the reality was quite the opposite. Thus, Roy has succeeded in manipulating himself into believing that his illusion is, in fact, a reality. However, Roy can not necessarily be considered the most effective manipulator in the play. Many of the other patients, also, have developed this sort of fake reality in order to deal with the harsh realities of their lives. Zac has developed an addiction to lithium and other drugs to “cloud his mind,” to allow himself to ignore and cast aside his previous experiences in life. He comments that “if [he] could put up with reality [he] wouldn’t be in [the asylum].” It can be inferred from this comment that he has manipulated himself into developing a state of mind where he finds it necessary to take drugs in order to deal with his reality. This is rather potent self-manipulation, though Roy’s example is still more effective in that he has actually developed an alternate (illusory) reality, whereas Zac has simply developed a way to deal with his reality. 

Though Roy proves to be an effective manipulator in Cosi, on occasions his efforts seem impotent is comparison to the other patients in the asylum. Collectively, the patients in the asylum unintentionally mould Lewis’s values and beliefs. They succeed in altering his view on the importance of love from the idea that “love is not so important nowadays,” to “without love the world wouldn’t mean much.” This transition has, in a large part, got to do with his relationship with Julie. Julie sees the other mental patients as being very secluded from herself, as indicated by her use of the word “they” to refer to the patients when speaking with Lewis. Through her rather intimate conversations with Lewis, she expounds her views on love and other subjects which seem to resonate with Lewis, who up until now has not really developed his own opinions on these “important things.” In this way, Julie’s empathetic manipulation of Lewis has led to a lasting change in his ideas and values. This differs with Roy’s manipulation in that his was not particularly lasting due to Lewis simply casting off his exploits without really considering them in a serious manner.
Ultimately, Roy can be considered the most effective manipulator in Cosi. He is able to convince the other patients and Lewis to perform Cosi Fan Tutti through his tenacity and energy, and demonstrates to Lewis that he is able to win over the other patients. This illustrates his confidence in his ability to manipulate others in order to achieve his goals, which in turn adds to his potency. Roy is also able to convince himself to believe that his childhood really was like the experience cultivated by himself in order to cast aside the reality. This manipulation is very difficult to achieve because it involves attempting to convince himself of something that he knows to be untrue. This is, however, the case with most of the patients, who find it necessary to forget emotionally or psychologically scarring events or details from their past. Many of the patients other than Roy are able to manipulate successfully also, and in a lasting manner. This is what makes Roy’s manipulation somewhat ineffective – it is done in such a way that Lewis, and others, do not take it particularly seriously. Thus, there is no character in Cosi who can be considered to be the most effective manipulator.


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In many ways, Roy is a very potent manipulator in the play Cosi, by Louis Nowra. However, he is by no means the most effective manipulator in the play.
Ultimately, Roy can be considered the most effective manipulator in Cosi.

Your handling of the prompt seems a bit confusing, since you contradict yourself a number of times.

That said, this topic requires a more critical evaluation of the prompt. To me, you seem overly hasty to agree with the prompt, when in fact it is not obvious whether what it proposes is in fact true. Certainly, Lewis and Nick should both be considered as candidates for "most effective manipulator".

With Cosi it is important to bear in mind the larger ideas that characters in the play represent, and use that as a guide for understanding the views and values being expressed in the play. Nowra uses Roy as a kind of symbolic shorthand for the notion that "[a]ll directors are tyrants" (p. 15). In this tradition of directing, directors are supposed to be only interested in staying true to a preconceived directorial 'vision', and have the last say on everything. But with the patients' production Lewis recognises that the play itself isn't important (and is frankly quite silly), what is important is the effect it will have on the patients, and therefore it more important that everyone is given equal opportunity to participate and to contribute ideas ("Now we have two directors" Roy complains). That verisimilitude to Mozart's original intention is unimportant is most clearly demonstrated by Lewis' decision to omit most of the music, due to his awareness that none of the patients can sing.

I mention Nick as another character to consider for comparison, because he pretty much embodies Roy's conception of the director as tyrant (consider the section where he takes over from Lewis in directing the play). What is gained from his direction? What is lost? Nick also believes that "politics is the real theatre", that is, that it is easier to 'manipulate' people to achieve political goals in the political arena than it is in the theatre (does Nowra agree?). This is another angle on the prompt, which is also worth considering.
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