A stock character is a character, which is a character quickly, recognised and accepted by the reader or viewer and requiring no development by the writer. Also a caricature is a person in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic effect. These two words fit Beverly quite well; she is the main character of this play so she is used as a catalyst for situations which, at times, cause quite dramatic events. Beverly’s contribution to the dramatic function and her role within comedy is debatable, what role does she have in this play?
The structure of the play is based around Beverly. No matter where you are in the play, Beverly is always present. Beverly sets the scene at the start of the play through her getting the house ready for the 'party' portraying that she is the host and the figure of this event. Not only that but is also shows the audience flashes of her being a social climber through her choice of music. The play starts off playing a song called ‘Love to Love You’ by Donna Summer which was a popular disco, funk song in 1975. This song was not typically played but the middle classes but instead by the working classes. The only moment she is not present is when Lawrence has his heart attack suggesting her constant need for attention and could possibly show her fear that other will steal the limelight if she is not there. Her constant involvement leaves the reader constantly reminded that the play runs through her and all the drama is sourced from her. Leigh’s use of Beverly in this way could be trying to show how women are in need of attention more than men know. In 1977, many opinions from women were ignored by their husbands and they were sometimes subjected to neglect. Leigh may also be suggesting that there is comedy in this and that women do not need all of this attention and it is funny that they make such an attempt and it all goes disastrously wrong making it disastrous and climactic. The purpose of making Beverly present in most aspects of the play may be to accurately and effective satirise a social climber throughout the play making it clear what he is trying to portray to the reader.
Beverly is seen as 'a social climber in a comedy of manners'. She is a working class woman pretending to be or acting like a middle class woman so that people perceive her in a certain way, everything she does tells the reader this. Beverly is quite condescending towards Angela when speaking to her at times. She is gives her advice by saying 'you've just sat down and put on your lipstick' identifying that there is something wrong with the way she presents herself. She then goes on to say 'Next time, will you try this for me? Just sit down, relax, and say to yourself "I have very beautiful lips" and I tell you, Ange, you're gonna see the difference!' Beverly seems to be talking down to Angela like she is a child that does not know how to do something. This not only makes it dramatic because it gives the reader a negative view of her, but it also makes it comedic as she thinks she knows fashion however her idea is seen as ridiculous. Leigh caricaturizes a social climber to make fun of the attempt people make trying to be middle class when they cannot accurately replicate them and instead they just look foolish. Leigh portrays this but in an exaggerated way to make it evident to the reader that this is his point and invokes a realization that this happens all of the time in everyday life. This part of the play gives the reader the idea that she is a comedic, exaggerated character that contributes to both drama and comedy.
'Abigail's Party' is a 'comedy of manners' which, described by J.A. Cuddon, "tends to be preoccupied with the codes of the middle and upper classes and is often marked by elegance, wit and sophistication" Abigail's…