Poverty’s Role on Human Needs

What I found most interesting about Maria Irene Fornes’ Mud is Mae’s search for knowledge and self-fulfillment. Throughout Act I, Mae has a deep desire to uncover truth, knowledge, and wisdom about the depths of life because she feels that it will complete her. When she explains the reason why she is drawn to Henry, a philosophical mind, she says, “I have no one to talk to. And sometimes I feel hollow and base. And I feel I don’t have a mind. But when I talk to you I do. I feel I have a mind” (1.3. 27- 29). Here Mae’s quest for knowledge and self-fulfillment is so interesting because most people would think that someone from the lower-class, the mud of society, would be too preoccupied with the struggles of daily life to be concerned about self-fulfillment, like Abraham Maslow theorized. According to Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” self-actualization (that is realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences) is the last need that humans have to satisfy after they have finished satisfying their biological/physiological needs, their safety needs, their belongingness/love needs, and their esteem needs. However, in the play Mae does not follow  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, instead she searches for self-fulfillment – despite the fact that her most “basic” needs are not being met. As such, through the portrayal of Mae, it can be said that Fornes makes a very thought-provoking point on human existence: perhaps the most important human need that needs to be satisfied is that of self-fulfillment, not solely biological needs.  If you really think about it, the idea that the personal fulfillment need should be met first makes sense. If Mae is able to unlock her true potential, there is possibility that she will be able to find the knowledge that she needs to get out of the mud.

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