Celtic subtleties: Brian Friels appropriation of the ODonnell clan. Leslie Anne Singel

ISBN: 9780549806134


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Celtic subtleties: Brian Friels appropriation of the ODonnell clan.  by  Leslie Anne Singel

Celtic subtleties: Brian Friels appropriation of the ODonnell clan. by Leslie Anne Singel
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This thesis is a literary examination of three plays from Irish playwright Brian Friel, Translations, Philadelphia, Here I Come! and Aristocrats, all of which feature a family of the ODonnell name and all set in the fictional Donegal village of Ballybeg. Written during the late twentieth century but set over the course of 150 years in rural Ireland, these plays have yet to be---and need to be---studied as a cycle series rather than strictly individual works. In examining the three plays as a testament to a single ancient Irish family name, one may see how Friel comments upon the later twentieth centurys preoccupation with modernization, both in the forms of the local becoming globalized and through the characters gradual emigration, but also the decline in education and communal ties.

When studied in order of chronological setting, rather than initial performance, the ODonnell families of these plays increase in social status and material wealth yet become increasingly distanced from the land and local identity.-The first chapter of this thesis examines the 1980 play Translations , whose central nuclear family includes impoverished but highly intelligent ODonnell men. As the play ends in eviction at the hands of British forces, the reader can quickly move to 1964s Philadelphia, Here I Come!

Chapter two of the thesis discusses the growing mercantile pressures of this ODonnell generation, as the protagonist Gar must decide between new opportunities in America or a return to his communal roots in his native hometown. Finally, Aristocrats is set in the late 1970s, as the ODonnell family has achieved the social status it has sought but whose family members have scattered to foreign countries, unfulfilling professions, and deteriorating characters. In examining the ODonnell cycle, one can see not only how a single Irish family in a singular setting react and adjust to the external forces but also how they react internally as a unit.

The changes that ultimately demolish the ODonnell family are, in essence, both uncontrollable and self-imposed.

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