THE SPLIT IDENTITY AS AN OBJECTIVE CORRELATIVE FOR THE IRISH SOCIOECONOMIC DICHOTOMY IN BRIAN FRIEL'S PHILADELPHIA HERE I COME!
Keywords:Irish History, Irish Drama, Brian Friel, objective correlative, Expressionism
This article proposes to examine the influence of the Irish dichotomy of place with its economic, political and religious manifestations on the art of Brian Friel with particular reference to Philadelphia Here I Come! (1964). Politically, Ireland is divided into Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. While the former has always been part of the United Kingdom, the latter has come to be called the Free State or the Republic. The two major political parties have always been the Protestant Unionists who belong to England and the Nationalists who formed the Catholic majority in South Ireland and one third of the population in Northern Ireland. The Irish political and religious dilemma continued to shadow almost all of Friel's dramatic output with themes like alienation, displacement, emigration, economic failure, frustrated hopes and the family lack of communication. In Philadelphia Here I Come! Friel handles the theme of Irish emigration to America and the desire of the Irish youth to escape the economic and social desolation of Ireland. The play revolves around Gar O’Donnell, a young man who is about to leave for Philadelphia. The most remarkable supra-realistic device in the play is that in which Friel presents Gar’s character in a split identity played by two actors: Public Gar and Private Gar. Through Gar's split identity, Friel dramatizes the love / hatred dichotomy that runs so deep in the Irish young man's soul toward the place and the people. With its technical novelty, humor, wit, irony, comic and tragic turns, the play attracted the attention of many critics and gained a wide popular and international success. Gar's split identity is manipulated as an objective correlative for the social, economic, religious and political dichotomy of the Irish society.
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