The Legal Establishment in Murmuring Judges

In the play “Murmuring Judges” by David Hare, the legal establishment is generally portrayed in a negative light. One negative attitude displayed by the barristers is a lack of understanding about the life of the general population. This is reflected by Sir Peter stating that everyone listens to “Desert Island Disks” (a Radio 4 broadcast) when they sit down for “Sunday luncheon”. The fact that Peter thinks appearing on this show and choosing classical songs such as Brahms will make him seem “more human” shows how out of touch he is with the common man. Irina appears to feel this way, but chooses not to say anything due to her lower ranking in the hierarchy, instead looking down, “impassive”.

The barristers also fail to reflect the diversity of British society, with most of them being white upper-class males, Irina being the exception that proves the rule – as highlighted by Peter when he states that she has “all the assets” needed “in a forward-looking Bar”, which could convey that she has been employed because she ticks the box of being a young black female, which may be an attempt to demonstrate some level of variety in the legal establishment.

An exclusive nature is also highlighted by the language used during the exchange between Peter and Cuddeford, with Cuddeford’s analogy of “bowling averages” showing that he expects knowledge of cricket to be held by those he is speaking to. Furthermore, the male workers all appear to have nicknames for each other, referring to one barrister as “Beaky” and an old judge as “Chugger”.

This may suggest that the barristers are all from public schools such as Eton, and their schoolboy nicknames have stuck with them throughout their adult life. Furthermore, the barristers appear to be strongly against the Court and Legal Services Act of 1990, which would allow solicitors to represent their clients in court, “starting a fund-raising campaign” to try and stop it, with Sir Peter even going as far as lightly threatening Conservative politicians who vote for it that they will not receive proper legal aid when they are “accused of consorting with some doxy behind Paddington Station” if the act is passed, implying that they hold certain power over political leaders. The fact that they are so strongly against the idea of an inclusive court displays that they are eager to retain their stature and money.

As well as that, the legal establishment appears to be some sort of clique, with one judge enforcing a strict dress code by pretending not to hear women if they did not “attend the court wearing black”. Although this judge has retired and the two male barristers are merely reminiscing, Irina notes that Sir Peter still “asked” her “to change” when she turned up wearing “a rather brilliant green dress”, which implies that the lawyers are still judged by how they dress. Throughout the play, the legal establishment displays a level of sexism, from Scene 2 where Irina is stood “one dutiful pace” behind both Sir Peter and Cuddeford, clearly displaying that she is lower in the social hierarchy.

Later in the scene, Sir Peter makes a comment that Irina “has all the assets” needed. Although one could interpret this as a compliment of her abilities, later behaviour suggests that he may have been highlighting the size of her breasts. This objectification of women is taken further in Scene 4 when Sir Peter gets his assistant Woody to ask Irina to the opera, a process known as “clerking”. When Irina declines, Woody tells her of the last female barrister who declined Sir Peter’s advances, suggesting her career ended up a failure by asking the rhetorical question “Where is she now?

” The stage direction “Woody is behaving as if this were quite usual” conveys to the audience that women are often asked to act as “arm candy” by their superiors. In addition to this, the legal establishment is also portrayed as being rather impersonal, with Sir Peter only being assigned Gerard’s case because his original representative (Beaky) was “in Paris” to watch his horse in a race. It is then later suggested by Woody that Beaky dodged the case as it was only “legal aid”, which meant that he would not be paid as much for it, showing that the barristers have only a financial interest in their clients.

Also, both Sir Peter and Cuddeford are dismissive of Gerard’s case, with Cuddeford making a comment that the loss would affect Peter’s “bowling average. This conveys that the barristers merely see their client’s futures as a game rather than someone’s life. David Hare emphasises the tradition and old-fashioned nature of the legal establishment throughout the play, with the judges in the first act wearing “grey wigs” and “black gowns”, and the legal buildings described as having “vaulted Victorian” ceilings and the prison described in the stage directions as “gloomy”.

This would no doubt intimidate any defendants, as the style of the court shows they are steeped in tradition and old power. View as multi-pages TOPICS IN THIS DOCUMENT Lawyer, Judge, Barrister, Solicitor, Question, Law, Advocate, Bar association RELATED DOCUMENTS Murmuring Judges Essay … Re-read Act 2 Scene 3. How does Hare present tensions between characteristics in this scene and the play as a whole? In ‘Murmuring Judges’, Hare demonstrates many different tensions between the various characters and systems within the play. In Act 2 Scene 3, we witness the events taking place inside the police station.

We see their day to day actions, mainly filling out paper work. However also included is an intimate conversation between Barry and Sandra, exposing Barry’s corrupt actions against Gerard and the other criminals. Throughout the scene, and indeed the rest of the play, Hare presents tensions in different ways, whether it be through the language use of the characters, the structure of their sentences or even the stage directions. Perhaps the most prominent tension that Hare has presented in this scene is in the relationship between Barry and Sandra.

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