Representations of gothic children in contemporary irish literature: a search for identity in Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy, Seamus Deane's Reading in the Dark, and Anna Burns' No Bones
Ireland is not a country unfamiliar with trauma. It is an island widely known for its history with Vikings, famine, and as a colony of the English empire. Inevitably, then, these traumas surface in the literature from the nation. Much of the literature that was produced, especially after the decline in the Irish language after the Great Famine of the 1840s, focused on national identity. In the nineteenth century, there was a growing movement for Irish cultural identity, illustrated by authors John Millington Synge and William Butler Yeats; this movement was identified as the Gaelic Revival. Another movement in literature began in the nineteenth century and it reflected the social and political anxieties of the Anglo-Irish middle class in Ireland. This movement is the beginning of the Gothic genre in Irish literature. Dominated by authors such as Sheridan Le Fanu and Bram Stoker, Gothic novels used aspects of the sublime and the uncanny to express the fears and apprehensions that existed in Anglo-Irish identity in the nineteenth century. My goal in writing this thesis is to examine Gothic aspects of contemporary Irish fiction in order to address the anxieties of Irish identity after the Irish War of Independence that began in 1919 and the resulting division of Ireland into two countries. I will be examining Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy, Seamus Deane's Reading in the Dark, and Anna Burns' No Bones in order to evaluate their use of children amidst the trouble surrounding the formation of identity, both personal and national, in Northern Ireland. All three novels use gothic elements in order to produce an atmosphere of the uncanny (Freud); this effect is used to enlighten the theme of arrested development in national identity through the children protagonists, who are inescapably haunted by Ireland's repressed traumatic history.; Specifically, I will be focusing on the use of ghosts, violence, and hauntings to illuminate the social anxieties felt by Northern Ireland after the Irish War of Independence.
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Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic;Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Ratte, Kelly, "Representations of gothic children in contemporary irish literature: a search for identity in Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy, Seamus Deane's Reading in the Dark, and Anna Burns' No Bones" (2013). HIM 1990-2015. 1455.