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Irish Men in New York: Irish Characters, Identity and Memory in The Mulligan Guard Ball

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2011, 24(2), pp.79-110
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Jungman Park 1

1한국외국어대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Edward Harrigan, a representative Irish-American dramatist in the late 19C, tries to mirror up the contemporary multi-ethnic immigrants in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City. While exerting himself to make plays like pages from actual life, Harrigan creates an Irish comic character ‘type’ named Dan Mulligan. Dan, who is allowed positive sides of personality, is differentiated from the earlier Irish characters as ‘whiteface’ stereotypes. Such positivity of Dan, the Irish character type, reflects Harrigan’s self-conscious pride for his own ethnic heritage or nostalgia for the Motherland which the playwright had never been to but had known by listening to his parents. In this respect, Harrigan’s Irish character embodies the playwright’s diaspora identity. This paper, by reading Harrigan’s The Mulligan Guard Ball (1897), explores the process in which Irish character types in the play embody Irish-American identity and reshape it into a bias-free Irish ethnicity, successfully avoiding the trap of ‘whiteface’ stereotypes. To this end, this paper especially focuses on the theme of ‘Irish Memory’: how the Irish Memory to be reflected in the formation of Irish character types; how the Irish Memory to be merged into the Irish-American identity which is implied and expressed out by the Irish character types. This paper is expected to widen and deepen the study of the theme by locating it in the late 19C American environment and by discussing the Irish Memory theme in terms of ‘aboriginality’ and ‘diaspora’ experience, differentiating itself from the existing practices in which the Irish Memory theme is regarded as an exclusive possession of modern time and, therefore, is exhausted in the study of 20C modern Irish dramas including Brian Friel’s.

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