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The Stage Irishman and the Idea of Ireland in British and Irish Theatre


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Pejić, Blanka. (2018). The Stage Irishman and the Idea of Ireland in British and Irish Theatre. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor Grgas, Stipe].

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The stage Irishman has been a stock character in England and Ireland since the 17th century. It is an exaggerated and caricatured portrayal of Irish people. The origins of the stage Irishman can be found in Shakespeare's play Henry V. The Irish captain from the play, named MacMorris, is one of the most important and influential stage Irishmen. This paper explores the change of the stock character from the 18th century to the early 20th century. The Anglo-Irish relations, which serve as the context for the plays, are also investigated through the dynamics of the English and Irish characters. Thomas Sheridan and Richard Brinsley Sheridan tried to entertain the English audience with their plays The Brave Irishman and The Rivals using the character of the Stage Irishman. However, the performance of these characters made the English sympathise with the Irish. These two seemingly typical plays of the 18th century actually contain some elements of the subverted stage Irishman which is later explored in Shaw's John Bull's Other Island. Unlike the Sheridans, Shaw and Boucicault wrote their plays for the Irish audience. The Shaughraun by Dion Boucicault was a huge success in Ireland and in the USA. Ireland was represented as a beautiful country with good and honest people. Shaw and Boucicault introduced the character of the stage Englishman and additionally explored the dynamics of the Anglo-Irish relations. In the early 20th century the Abbey Theatre was established in Dublin and it served as a platform for the Irish authors to experiment and form a new national identity without compromising their artistic freedom. The most controversial piece of the theatre was Synge's play The Playboy of the Western World which provoked the Irish audience to display their outrage over Synge's portrayal of Irish rural life and values. Synge described his depiction of the Irish as extravagant and real. However, the Irish audience experienced it as a very offensive piece which was harmful to the Irish image they had been trying to ameliorate. The paper ends with a one-act play The Rising of the Moon in which the author Lady Gregory reflects the struggle of the Irish for the political independence and explores Ireland as a divided nation on the matter of British Rule.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: the stage Irishman, Anglo-Irish relations, the stage Englishman, the stock character
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Grgas, Stipe
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2018 13:53
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2018 13:53

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