“These people are too poor to indulge in bizarre ego games. They have a reality to deal with, which is poverty”- Maria Irene Fornes.
In Maria Irene Fornes, Mud, Fornes zooms in on the social structures of a society that place men and women into distinct categories, such as gender and class. These categories define and determine their “Lot” in life. Fornes uses male and female characters to illustrate her awareness of the harsh circumstances human beings face in their environment. The characters are faced with the reality of poverty, hardship and sexual depravity.
The characters, Mae, Lloyd and Henry, are created to illustrate the different attitudes human beings possess and how they behave in their harsh state. The character, Mae, in particular is described as a “Spirited young woman,” yet this trait she possesses is not enough to help her gain a higher status in her society. Mae is poor, illiterate and works at home ironing clothes. Mae tries to improve the quality of her life by seeking to get an education but Mae is unable to retain what she has learnt. Fornes could be suggesting that Western Philosophy is unstable. Western Philosophy argues that women and men have separate roles, men are defined a the intelligent ones and women are defined as the emotional ones. To argue against this belief, Fornes uses Mae as a dominant character who does not fit into the traditional category of how a female should act. Mae is the more dominant character of the two male characters. Mae may not be book smart but she is street smart. In act 1, may is seen giving Lloyd advice on decisions he should be able to make on his own as a man.
Mae is often deprived of sexual intimacy from the character Lloyd. Although no one is sure about the true relationship between Lloyd and Mae, it is evident they have some form of relationship. Fornes is shining light on how men and women interact with each other. Mae than loses interest in Lloyd and gravitates towards Henry. Although Mae finds comfort in the character Henry, Mae is still deprived of the things she strives for to improve her current life.
Fornes depiction of the human self shows how harsh reality is, especially towards women. The characters did not want to be poor but poverty overtook them. Also, the characters are seen portraying gender roles that go against how they are expected to think and act. Fornes then is concluding in her play that the harsh reality of human life prevent us from seeing ourselves as human beings, we then lose our innocence and our sense of self while trying to make sense of a world that leaves no room to accommodate our failures, differences and imperfections.