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The Impact of Literature on Ireland in the early 20th Century

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Introduction

The Impact of Literature on Ireland in the early 20th Century The importance of literature on Ireland in the early years of the Twentieth Century can be measured in a number of ways. First, the literary revival, or at least its intentions was to allow Ireland the chance to establish its own literary identity entirely distinct from the predominant British literature at the time. This had the effect of Ireland being, in a sense, the first post-colonial nation, insofar as Joyce, Yeats, Synge, O' Casey, and others would all choose to write in the language that was imposed upon them rather than Gaelic - the traditional language of Ireland. Moreover, they would make it their own, using Irish vernacular and social realism to describe a world entirely distinct from how the Irish were usually portrayed - namely, as caricatures; either of the romanticised Celt, or else as the simian figure of ridicule and the butt of the joke. ...read more.

Middle

In this essay, I will look firstly at the more controversial plays written for the Abbey Theatre, and of the effects in general of the Irish Literary Revival and how it was manifested and the rules to which it applied. The Abbey theatre in many ways pioneered the notion that the theatre could instigate political change in Irish politics, insofar as the Abbey theatre had a political agenda, and sought to instill a sense of nationalist pride and represent the Irish use of language in populist terms. Yeats was important in setting up this treater, and claimed in his Nobel prize speech that: "The theatres of Dublin, [...] were empty buildings hired by the English travelling companies, and we wanted Irish plays and Irish players. When we thought of these plays we thought of everything that was romantic and poetical, because the nationalism we had called up-the nationalism every generation had called up in moments of discouragement-was romantic and poetical." ...read more.

Conclusion

The Abbey Theatre produced many plays of importance regarding political stances and viewpoints. Often however, the nationalistic plays got most attention, and, under pressure from the Nationalists of Ireland to produce more political plays, John Millington Synge wrote The Playboy of the Western World, a play about the reception given to Christy Mahon, who says that he's murdered his father. The play was controversial at the time because Christy was made into a hero by the other characters of the play, suggesting that violence was part of the culture of Ireland, and that "the fools of Mayo", as described by Christy's father, were attacked for their hypocrisies. Irish nationalists revolted against the play, suggesting that the play was "a vile and inhuman story told in the foulest language we have ever listened to from a public platform". Synge's later work couldn't be shown at the Abbey in case it provoked further outrage. ...read more.

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