Importance of Identity in Anglo - Irish Literature in the Twentieth Century

1262 Words6 Pages
J. M. Synge is one of the most prominent Irish writers of the twentieth century; his writing characterizes a broad, multifaceted range of political, social and religious anxieties shaping Ireland for the duration of its most remarkable period of change, which transformed the place from a relatively peaceful country to a more political and aggressive location. The picture Synge creates shows us that the question of identity relating to Ireland is problematic; however it has produced and provoked some of the greatest literature of the century. As G. J. Watson has asserted: "However painful the question of identity may be for the Irish in real life, it has functioned, deeply embedded as it is in the Irish political and literary…show more content…
Ronan McDonald states: "Enter the playboy Christy Mahon. Christy's poetry, like the cultural flowering of the Ascendancy, is based on a dirty deed that is aestheticized as a gallous story. In the course of the action it is exposed and then transcended. Christy comes to the Mayoites carrying a mark of culpability which, in the course of the play, he is privileged to purge. Culture confronts and expiates its violent origins in the controlled laboratory of the stage. The play comically, but unnervingly, explores the process by which violence is glorified and aestheticized. Yet it also, by a theatrical slight of hand, reveals the violence as chimerical, and allows Christy to pass through and survive the implications of his supposed atrocity." Ireland is shown for what it is; Synge offers us a critique which is almost satirical. There is a mystical quality to Ireland which is emphasised by its storytelling and folklore (Shanaitue), in which the Irish are a `nation of heroes'; a notion which is explored through the figure of Christy - who is himself a `Christ-like' figure - as he almost brings his father back from the dead in a sense. There is a sub-textual reference to the New Testament in this father- son relationship; Christy is in conflict with his father - and in a certain respect - he is `sacrificed' when he is burnt because he did not live up to the expectations people had of him. Synge treats the conflict between the relations with irony, and it is
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