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Desire for Otherness in Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2009, 22(1), pp.89-109
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

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1성신여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The relationship between subject and other or otherness is inseparable and otherness is a requirement for the unclosed life of the subject. For the satisfaction of the subject's longing and expansion of subject, otherness is necessary. In the play, otherness is presented in various ways such as in the Celtic ritual, in the Ryangan ritual, in the marriage practice in Ryanga and in the characters leaving home for other places. Many characters in the play are longing for otherness, because their current life is tormented and burdened with the doctrines of Catholicism represented in the character of Kate. Their quest for something else is based upon the fact that their current life, rituals and practices are not satisfactory. The traces of Celtic tradition and rituals are revealed in many minute things, such as the bonfire in the back-hill, the symbolic sacrificial ritual of Sweeney, the bull regarded as a symbol of fortune, and dancing in the harvest festival. These are practices performed in Lughnasa, a harvest festival of the Celts. The festival’s name originates from the name of the God of Light, Lugh in the Celtic myth. The Mundy sisters’ eagerness to go to Lughnasa signifies that Lughnasa is a kind of escape from their unhappy lives. However, instead of going to Lughnasa, they are indulged in passionate and hysterical dancing in their kitchen, which is a surrogate participation in Lughnasa. Jack, a former Catholic priest, who returned from Ryanga in Uganda introduces to the sisters the Ryangan ritual where people start the ritual by sacrifice but people end it with enjoyment. Therefore, the religious and the secular are completely mixed. This ritual is presented as an alternative ritual in Ballybeg where there is no meaningful ritual except the Catholic ceremony and mass. Polygamy in Ryanga is also a solution to the sisters living without a healthy and adult man in house. This practice is performed symbolically by the sisters when a man, Gary, comes to their house. This implies that they want the Ryangan marriage system unconsciously. The Ryangan marriage system is not allowed under the doctrine of Catholicism. Also Ross, Agnes, Gary, and Michael leave home eventually so that they reveal that they have a strong longing for other kinds of life other than life in Ballybeg. This shows that they are not satisfied with their current life so they are seeking another kind of life. All of these show that they long for some otherness in their lives and the otherness are suggested in the forms of other cultural practices and their leaving home.

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