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The End of the Story: A Study on Tom Murphy's Bailegangaire

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2012, 25(1), pp.141-167
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Yumi Hong 1

1명지대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

With profound engagement with contemporary Irish concerns, Tom Murphy(1935- ) is the remarkable contemporary Irish playwright who has been working for the Irish stage for almost 50 years since his first being mentioned as the most challenging playwright belonging to ‘he angry young man’ generation. All his works earnestly and seriously delve into the Irish psyche and national trauma related to the Irish national identity and historical memories. This paper aims to explore Murphy’s Bailegangaire as the story and history of Ireland as well as those of a family by focusing on three female characters’ stories: Mommo’s story as ‘the story of guilty feeling and healing of Ireland’, Mary’s as ‘the story of homecoming of Ireland’, and Dolly’s as ‘an Irish Christmas story’. Based on the Irish traditional storytelling, Bailegangaire has Mommo’s endless and unfinished story at its center. Three marginalized women—Mommo, Mary and Dolly—have their own stories, which become one story with each of them representing past, present and future of Ireland. The story finally becomes a history of Ireland as well as that of their family. Through storytelling, using third person narrative, Mommo tells her own story and confesses her guilty feeling in causing the deaths of her husband and her grandson, and finally faces the reality and accepts it, which ultimately brings the end of the story. Sharing guilty feeling about her brother Tom's death, Mary helps Mommo finish her story, eventually accomplishing her own searching for home. With her extramarital pregnancy and her husband's abuse representing contemporary Ireland’s broken family, Dolly’s expected baby, named after Tom, becomes the symbolic figure replacing the dead Tom, thus becoming the baby Jesus figure in modern frustrated and disillusioned Ireland. In the final scene, Mommo’s bed represents Ireland itself containing Mommo, Mary and Dolly with her baby in her womb as its past, present and future. In Bailegangaire, Murphy tells the story of Ireland which should confront the past and face the reality and accept the present affected by the past, hoping for the optimistic future, and shows each of the three female characters fulfills the journey of searching for home.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.