Teddy the Showman
Teddy to me is intriguing as he displays a severe amount of dramatic irony. His untouchable showman persona has a leak of vulnerability. He’s boastful on having control, yet he seems the pitiful powerless, character as he reflects on his past and being in show business in the monologue.
First, when the other characters speak about Teddy, it’s hard to create a substantial character. In the case of Grace, Teddy was hardly there. Even if he was physically there, to her he was just another connection to Frank. At times it was difficult to understand if Grace was speaking of Frank or Teddy. I wouldn’t understand that she was talking about Frank until a couple lines after she mentions Teddy. I think Brian Friel intentionally made Grace’s character gloss over Teddy’s presence. She even mentions that he was literally on the outside in a world of his own. Her being oblivious of Teddy’s presence isn’t malice. It’s as if Teddy is merely a minor detail, simply a spectator, to her and Frank’s relationship. Grace’s attention didn’t come to Teddy until she was in a crisis. In the case with the bar and with the stillbirth of her infant, Grace needed Teddy when Frank was too out of reach. Even in the moments Teddy was there for Grace, she was too consumed by the absence and condition of Frank. Though Grace gave Teddy little thought I had the impression that she had him all figured out. She considered him Frank’s devout servant, a determined follower. The use of the word servant implies that this service to Frank is impulsive and uncontrollable. It makes Teddy look far less in control than he’d like to lead on.
With Frank the image was a little different. To Frank, Teddy was his devout supporter. Teddy is a supporter that he could heal, but chooses not to so just so that he could keep him around. Instead of using the word servant, he says that Teddy acts as his support. Teddy’s “sustaining passion” is something Frank lacks, but severely needs. Hanging on to Teddy makes Teddy a character of value. In fact, Frank’s statement of his need of Teddy is similar to addiction. He needs Teddy as much as he needs drinking; he relies on both. The word “sustaining” suggest that Teddy is foundation that cannot be skipped over, to do so would lead to Frank’s destruction. While a word like “servant” implies that the character is being abused and indeed a victim; the word sustaining suggests that Teddy holds power.
Finally, coming back to this idea of Teddy’s character in his perspective, he is completely different from the ideas of the other characters. Before he says a word in the beginning of the monologue, his trouble is established with his compulsive drinking. By describing talent and artist he gives the impression that he feels superior to the artist. He considers himself this firm controlling force that has the ability to bring potential to fruition. He admits that the talent of the artist is evident, but any successful artist is dumb and doesn’t understand the detail of their talent. Overall, what’s most interesting about Teddy in my monologue is that he makes this model of what’s wrong with all of these exterior elements, but he fails to realize that he is a victim of his own model. His crafty showman persona is a cracked façade that reveals itself through the tones of his words (also with his contradictions in his words and description) even while telling simple stories about ungrateful talented stupid dogs.