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A Mockery of Class-Conscious Britain: John Arden’s Live like Pigs

John Arden’s 1961 play Live like Pigs presents a mockery of the clash between British underclass, working class, and middle class. In its playful tone that is enhanced by the juxtaposition of the prosaic language with the poetic use of songs, the seventeen-scene play aims to make fun of class-conscious British society in a bitter way. With several characters representing the underclass way of life, such as Old Croaker, Blackmouth, and Daffodil, as well as the Sailor’s household, the play touches upon several behavioral codes and living patterns in the multiple layers of the class-conscious society of Britain. Those codes and patterns vary from conforming or not conforming to the expectations of the government and society as a whole, economic dependence on welfare support, the use of the gardens as tools of establishing the norms of moral and aesthetic values, as well as expected gender roles. This article seeks to read Arden’s play closely from a cultural studies perspective, which reveals the author’s mockery of the clash between these three classes. Using the theories of hegemony and ideology as a springboard for discussion, it analyzes how these three classes are in a power struggle with one another.