Under Milk Wood is a play by Dylan Thomas, wherein he creates a great number of characters in a very short period of time. In less than one hundred pages, Thomas has introduced sixty-five characters. The reader is able to learn a great deal of information about each of the characters, despite the fact that he uses less than a page to introduce each of them. Thomas has accomplished this, through the creation of scenes and the use of language, which imply various traits about each of the characters. An example of his method of describing characters is the comedic character, Sinbad Sailors. Thomas does not relate any specific details about Sinbad s life. Instead, he allows the reader to witness his workplace, the people he spends time with and the failures in his personal life. In this way the audience is left with a vivid image of the character of Sinbad Sailors.
One of the ways that Thomas has developed Sinbad’s character is by placing him in the local pub, The Sailor’s Arms. In the scene where Mr. Waldo goes to the Sailor’s Arms, the pub is described as having smoked herring brown windows. This implies that the windows had not been washed and that very little light is able to get into the bar. To add to the gloomy scenario, Thomas uses silent fishermen who flush down their pints. Sinbad is immersed in a depressing atmosphere and surrounded by dismal people. The detail about the silent fishermen alludes to the fact that there are no women in the bar. By silencing the men in the bar, Thomas has created an antisocial situation. If there were women in the bar, the fishermen would have been more likely to converse with the women than to drink silently and the Sailors Arms would take on a much different environment.
With no women coming into the Sailors Arms, Sinbad has little contact with the opposite sex. This detail is used by Thomas to further Sinbad’s character. Sinbad’s conversation with Mr. Waldo is the first indication of his loneliness:
Sinbad: “Oh Mr. Waldo.”
First Voice: “Sinbad Sighs.”
Sinbad ” I dote on that Beynon. She is a lady all over.”
Sinbad longs for Gossamer Beynon who he believes he cannot have. He later goes on to give Mr. Waldo a reason why he cannot have Gossamer Beynon right away:
In this conversation with Mr. Waldo, Sinbad has makes an excuse for his loneliness. If Sinbad’s feelings towards Gossamer Beynon are as strong as he expresses, there is no reason why the presence of his grandmother could prevent him from courting her. Sinbad’s feelings for Gossamer Beynon, which he does not act upon, have been created by Thomas in order to show that Sinbad does not have any contact with women. The audience can infer that Sinbad’s social life revolves around The Sailor’s Arms and that he is unhappy with his situation.
The personal life that Thomas has created for Sinbad not only shows the audience how he interacts with other people but it also conveys how Sinbad views himself. Later on in the play, as Gossamer Beynon walks by The Sailor’s Arms Sinbad is watching her and he remarks to himself:
Sinbad: “Oh, Gossamer Beynon, why are you so proud?”
Second Voice: “he grieves to his Guinness,”
Sinbad: Oh Beautiful Beautiful Gossamer B, I wish I wish that you were for me. I wish that you were not so educated.
In this scene, Sinbad reveals the real reason for not courting Gossamer. He views himself as inferior to her and wishes that she wasn t more educated than him. In this scene, a major element of Sinbad’s character is revealed to the audience. We can see that he judges himself as inferior to Gossamer. He is also likely to consider himself inferior to other people with Gossamer’s level of intelligence and education. This scene, more than any other in the play is instrumental in building Sinbad’s character.
Thomas has created Sinbad Sailors as a vivid character in the minds of his audience without relating any specific details about Sinbad himself. Instead, Thomas has allowed the audience to see glimpses of his life. In this manner, Thomas describes all the characters in Under Milk Wood. These details allow the audience to have an intimate relationship with the characters. Dylan Thomas has succeeded in creating several characters that seem real, in a very short time period. The characters come alive in the minds of the audience because the assumptions and interpretations of each audience member impose the details of the characters. In this play Thomas has overcome the restrictions that language can impose on character creation.