An American in Ireland: The Representation of the American in Brian Friel's Plays.
Comparative Drama 2004, Summer-Fall, 38, 2-3
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Twentieth-century Irish theater has been traversed by recurrent binarisms pertinent to the countrys specific political and historical condition such as those between Catholic and Protestant, Irish and English, North and South, Nationalist and Loyalist. Such conflicting contrasts, crucial to the understanding of Irish identity during the colonial and early postcolonial period, fade gradually as Ireland moves out of its seclusion, in an effort to embrace a more intercultural perspective from which to perceive its own identity. Aware of the need to transcend absolute boundaries without losing a sense of origin, identification, and belonging, Brian Friel seems to be moving in this direction, albeit cautiously. (1) Deeply concerned with the impact that globalization enacted under the auspices of the United States can have, (2) Friel uses the Irish/American relationship to investigate the intricacies of identity and culture just at the time that Ireland has to become engaged with a global economy and the power relations that define it. This article will focus on the representation of the American in three plays by Friel, The Freedom of the City (1973), Aristocrats (1979), and Give Me Your Answer, Do! (1997). All three plays dramatize the conflicts and exchanges between the American, always an intellectual, who tries to understand Ireland by constructing her as an object of investigation, and the Irish who define themselves against the national other and its image of them. The analysis of this juxtaposition has a twofold function: first, it reveals the relationship between power and knowledge as the American attempts to define and thus immobilize Ireland; second, the principle of permanent and absolute cultural difference is dismantled as the American occasionally desires and ultimately finds in Irish culture what is missing from his own; in the process a split self emerges. But the Irish, too, are occasionally involved in this gesture of the divided self; they too discover secret affinities with the other, and challenge the coherence of fixed identities against any sense of essentialism or cultural homogeneity.
- 2,99 €
- Category: Performing Arts
- Published: 22 June 2004
- Publisher: Comparative Drama
- Print Length: 29 Pages
- Language: English