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'An English historian has claimed that Hugh O'Neill was "a great man as far as savages go." How far does Friel's presentation of O'Neill support this claim?'

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Introduction

'An English historian has claimed that Hugh O'Neill was "a great man as far as savages go." How far does Friel's presentation of O'Neill support this claim?' Charlie Green. The claim by an English historian that Hugh O'Neill was "a great man as far as savages go" shows the historian's opinion that O'Neill was a man of a race and culture below his own. Friel's presentation of Hugh O'Neill in 'Making History' both supports and disagrees with this comment. Friel first stage directions introducing the character of Hugh O'Neill describe him as, 'a private, sharp-minded man...out going and talkative' who speaks in 'an upper-class English accent.' This introduction of O'Neill shows him to be an intelligent and well-educated individual, showing that at the beginning of the Act I, scene I, the audience should not consider him to be a "savage". He also presents O'Neill as a sensitive man, a characteristic not commonly associated with savages. Shortly after his marriage to Mabel, he shows great enthusiasm when planning to, 'make the room upstairs into' their bedroom. This characteristic continues when O'Neill defends his marriage to Mabel in front of Lombard and O'Donnell. He calls her a, 'very talented, a very spirited, a very beautiful young woman'. Further more, he presents her with a 'watch', claiming the only person he knows, 'who has one is Queen Elizabeth'. ...read more.

Middle

in principle). Frayn's use of the word 'behind' tells the audience that the Pope is sending these gifts as a sign of support for Catholicism is Northern Ireland, not for O'Neill. This theme continues when O'Neill is writing his submission to the Queen. He's aware that, like the Pope, she will use, 'someone like me (sic),' showing that his relationships with his allies are not personal, that he is merely a puppet on their strings that they can use to influence the Irish people. O'Neill is presented as a treacherous character throughout 'Making History', primarily through the English's' opinions of him. Harry reports that 'Young Essex' has been imprisoned for, 'conferring secretly with the basest and vilest traitor that ever lived, Hugh O'Neill'. This historically accurate opinion of O'Neill shows that the English considered him a savage. The way in which other characters view O'Neill is an important part of Friel's presentation of O'Neill. O'Donnell is described as having, 'a deep affection for' him. However, Friel presents O'Donnell as a fool, as when Lombard, Harry and O'Neill as discussing serious political and religious present situations, he is more intent upon telling the other characters of his mother's house's refurbishment. However, O'Donnell also insults O'Neill, calling him a 'hoor', showing that although he is fond of O'Neill, that he does not necessarily respect him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Friel explains this trait through and presents O'Neill as a politically educated and diplomatic man - two characteristics not associated with "savages". He argues that the, 'slow, sure tide of history' is with him and that, like Maguire, he, 'has to rise,' due to his; 'history, instinct, his decent passion' and, 'the composition of his blood'. O'Neill relates to and sympathises with Maguire's situation and Friel's presentation of his understanding show the audience that he faces the same situation. The Earl understands that, 'either way I (sic) make an enemy', showing his political astuteness and diplomatic thought process. It seems that Mabel's claim that he's constantly, 'fighting to preserve a fighting people,' is an unfair one as he, in reality, Freil presents him as using 'caution' and 'deliberation' - 'the only Irish Chieftain who understands the political method'. During conversations with Lombard, concerning O'Neill's history, the Earl insists, repeatedly and with great emphasis, on 'truth' being a necessary ingredient in the telling of his life. O'Neill repeats his plea to Lombard a total of eight times throughout the play. In such a carefully constructed piece of drama, such repetition carries special importance and shows a moral quality of the Earl's character. Further more, five uses of the word occur in the first Act with only three occurring during O'Neill's exile in Rome. It is expected by the audience that O'Neill, during his dying days would be determined to have a true account of his life with which to preserve his memory. ...read more.

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