Dancing At Lughnasa Presentation

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The research project I presented at the Upper Midwest Honors Conference in Spring of 2010 on Friel's play, Dancing at Lughnasa, in the context of the Irish Constitution.

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Dancing At Lughnasa Presentation

  1. 1. Where the Heart is:The Irish Constitution’sFailure of Defining Family in Brian Friel’sDancing at Lughnasa<br />Carla Sue Schmidt<br />Loras College<br />Dubuque, IA<br />
  2. 2. The Mundy Family<br />Kate – a schoolteacher<br />Agnes - knitter<br />Maggie – homemaker<br />Rose – knitter<br />Chris – homemaker, the youngest sister<br />Uncle Jack – missionary priest<br />Michael – Chris’s young son<br />Gerry Evans – Michael’s father<br />Economic and social troubles<br />Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel<br />
  3. 3. 1937, one year after the play’s setting<br />Article 41 – The Family<br />1.1 Fundamental unit of society with rights<br />1.2 Protecting the family<br />2.1 Importance of woman’s life “in the home”<br />2.2 Protecting women from work outside home<br />3.1 Protecting marriage<br />3.2 Divorce forbidden<br />3.3 No divorce from outside Ireland recognized<br />Irish Constitution<br />
  4. 4. Constitutional referendums<br />Divorce<br />1986 - failed<br />1996 – amendment passed<br />Other debates:<br />Contraception<br />1992<br />Abortion<br />Pro-Life Amendment 1983<br />Only permitted if the life of the mother is at risk<br />Dancing at Lughnasa 1990<br />
  5. 5. Spontaneous dancing<br />The sisters “suddenly catching hands and dancing a spontaneous step-dance and laughing”<br />Contrast with Uncle Jack<br />Old, sick, confused<br />“shrunken and jaundiced” <br />The Mundys: a happy family<br />
  6. 6.
  7. 7. Self-sufficient family of women<br />Kate, Rose, and Agnes make money<br />Chris and Maggie keep house<br />Michael and Jack are subordinate, dependent<br />Kate as matriarch<br />Gentle authority<br />The Mundys and patriarchy<br />
  8. 8. Harvest Dance<br />Lughnasa, a pagan god<br />Inappropriate for the sisters to attend<br />Emphasis on how they used to love it<br />Idealized past - parallel<br />Pagan dance<br />Time before the Constitution’s restrictions<br />Catholic vs. Pagan<br />
  9. 9. Rose and Danny Bradley<br />Relationship impossible<br />Kate’s job<br />Doesn’t live up to social standards<br />Kate and searching for Rose<br />Won’t contact authorities for fear of the shame<br />Catholic: destructive<br />
  10. 10. Agnes and Rose<br />Forced to run away, die in poverty<br />Chris<br />Forced to work at the factory, hates it<br />Kate, the rest of the family<br />Uncle Jack dies, and Kate is inconsolable<br />“Much of the spirit and fun had gone out of their lives”<br />Catholic: destructive<br />
  11. 11. Idealization of the past<br />1937 Constitution, play written 1990<br />Pagan & Catholic: past & present<br />Past was happy, productive<br />Present is dead, destructive<br />Statement on the changes taking place in the Republic of Ireland at the time the play was written<br />Conclusion<br />

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