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How does Friel present the duality at the heart of the character O(TM)Neill in the opening scene of making History?

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Introduction

How does Friel present the duality at the heart of the character O'Neill in the opening scene of making History? The character of O'Neil within the play Making History is presented by Friel in several conflicting roles, conveying the inner conflict he feels as a character in various aspects within his life. Friel uses description within stage directions, as well as the actions and dialogue of O'Neil to portray this theme of duality. Two of the main opposing roles played by O'Neill are his public figure, versus his private figure. O'Neill, being a chieftain of Ireland has a major leading stand to play in the politics of his country. In addition, he also acts as an Earl in England, therefore becoming involved in English battles and other political concerns for the opposing country. O'Neill does not express himself through speech particularly in the opening scene and therefore his public authority is suggested through the dialogue of his fellow characters and friends; Harry Hovedon, Lombard and O'Donnell. ...read more.

Middle

This reflects the English stereotype of being reserved and keeping a 'stiff upper lip', and the reversion back to his Irish original accent shows his more passionate expressive Irish routes, and inner personality concealed behind his public figure. O'Neill's duality between two neighbouring countries proposes inevitable conflict in the fact that the two countries' entirely opposing cultures are about to go to war. England's attempts to overrule Ireland create tension between the two cultures, and yet O'Neill has placed himself between the two, treading a fine line in order not to fall too far into one or the other, while still trying to maintain his precious reputation and loyalties. Harry Hovedon discusses his links with the English Lords in order to re-establish connections to maintain a sense of political peace. The lifestyles of the English, ' a few days fishing on the Boyne', in contrast to the Irish clan rivalry, 'killed five women and two children; stole cattle and horses and burned every hayfield in sight', creates a juxtaposition by Friel of the two. ...read more.

Conclusion

O'Neill stands up for Mabel, presented by Friel as a loyal husband despite the loyalty he owes to his friends. His exposition of Mabel to his colleagues and companions not only shows his eloquence in giving public speeches, presenting his public figure; but also his true and honest love for Mabel as a woman despite her origins. In this scene O'Neill has to battle with the conflict between his Irish friends and fellow chieftains, and his new English protestant wife, who has left her country to join a new and intimidating place where the Irish view will cause much dispute and unsettled opinions on not only Mabel, but also about where O'Neill's loyalties lie. Friel creates tension within the opening scene as he introduces O'Neill, who has to battle through the friction of contrasting roles as a public and private man; husband and a friend; and the general theme of his divided loyalties between two very different and conflicting cultures of England and Ireland. Friel prepares the audience for a tense and dramatic play where the character must inevitably experience a downfall or strife as he attempts to juggle all of these incongruous aspect of his life. ...read more.

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