Reviewinng John Fords The Quiet Man English Literature Essay Free Essay

Introduction: John Ford ‘s The Quiet Man

From the clip of its release in 1952 and up to the present John Ford ‘s The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, has remained one of the most popular films in America, every bit good as elsewhere. The movie, set in the 1920s, tells the narrative of an American gladiator, Sean Thornton, who, holding killed an opposition in a pugilism lucifer, decides to return to Ireland, his hereditary fatherland in hopes of happening peace. Once in Inisfree ( Ford ‘s fanciful small town, whose name bears Yeatsian and poetic overtones ) Thornton enters a pre-modern, pre-industrial universe, whose idyllic landscape and archaic and traditional community, with its rites and gags, truenesss and feuds set it at complete odds with the universe of the twentieth-century America that the hero has left behind.

The Quiet Man ‘s narrative will so go around around the deep implicit in tenseness between the opposing positions of Ireland ( as represented by Inisfree ) and America ( double distanced in infinite and clip ) . As Sean falls in love with Mary Kate Danaher, the red-haired and fiery-tempered local miss, the struggle revolves around Sean ‘s impression of love as the free pick of two people and the matrimony traditions of Inisfree, which force him to contend Kate ‘s strong-arming brother Red Will Danaher in order to repossess her dowery and birthright. Supervised by the full community led by Michaeleen ( the local matcher ) and the benevolent priest figures of Father Lonergan and the Reverend Mr. Fairplay, the scene of the combat becomes a psychotherapeutic rite aimed to reconstruct non merely the regulations regulating life in Inisfree, but besides Thornton ‘s ain mind, which had been traumatised by his personal calamity of holding killed a adult male in a professional pugilism lucifer ( Dowling 2001 ) . Furthermore, its redemptional quality is able to resound to the last scenes of the film, whereby any crevices in the cloth of Irish society – be they cast along spiritual, category or cultural lines – disappear in the harmonious image of a community in which Catholics cheer a visiting Protestant bishop to let the reverent remain in the small town, and Danaher courts the rich Anglo-Irish widow Tillane ( Martin Renes 2007: 97 ) .

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Ford ‘s filmic interlingual rendition of staged Ireland: towards a new cultural paradigm

While regarded as a authoritative of filming, the prevalent modern-day Irish critical appraisal of Ford ‘s movie has chiefly questioned its portraiture of the worlds of Irish life, sing it an example of “ the preponderantly commercial designs of American and British movie companies ” that have dominated the images of Ireland on screen, furthering “ a set of cinematic representations which have tended to prolong a sense of cultural lower status ” ( Rockett, Gibbons & A ; Hill 1988: xi-xii ) . In this order of thoughts, Luke Gibbons, for illustration, has drawn attending to the movie ‘s representation of Ireland in footings of “ a crude Eden, a rural idyll free from the force per unit areas and restraints of the modern universe, ” which is perplexing “ the worlds of Irish life ” ( 1988: 196 ; 195 ) . In conformity to Kathryn Hume ‘s word picture of pastoral phantasy as concentrating on the simple life and communal traditions in an open jubilation of “ the freedom from duty ” ( 1984: 62 ) , Harlan Kennedy considers Ford ‘s image of Ireland to be “ a never-never Golden Age and a clip of simple pastoral unity, ” knocking the movie as an look of a manner of cultural imperialism, with Hollywood perpetuating assorted Irish stereotypes whose beginnings lay in long centuries of English colonisation and turn out “ non less arch and oppressive than the collar-and-lead colonialism long exercised by Britain ( Kennedy 1999: 2 ) . In a similar vena, James MacKillop considers that The Quiet Man makes usage of “ sentimentalism, superciliousness, cliche and folderal ” ( 1999: 169 ) , to reenforce stereotypes of Irishness as a people who are uneven, inefficient and with a fancy of drink and music, reenforcing a similar thought linked to Ford ‘s recycling Irish colonial representations.

However, the images of Ireland and Irishness that Ford ‘s movie undertaking, which make the object of the review of the above-named governments do in fact originate within the theatrical kingdom and are closely related to the political and societal turbulences characterizing the Irish experience.

On the one manus, the blarney-speaking and whiskey-swilling Michaeleen every bit good as the hard-bitten Danaher are Ford ‘s estimates of the stage-Irishman, a dramatic cliche , ab initio popularised by English writers and finally adopted by Irish-born playwrights looking for callings in England which was popular on the English and Irish phases prior to the constitution of the Irish Literary Theatre in the 1890s. In this order of thoughts it is deserving reminding that, at least since Elizabethan times, within the kingdom of public discourse the Anglophone position had evolved a link of negative representations of Irishness clustered around the image of the barbarian and violent Irish savage, to which, during the 2nd half of the 19th century, the procedures of negricization and simianisation were added and translated by the Victorian imperativeness into the barbarous stereotype of the ape-like Paddy, the simian beast endangering the English jurisprudence and civilisation. A similar perceptual experience had informed the theatrical representations of Irish characters, that, tended, harmonizing to Christopher Fitz-simon to fall into two chief classs: “ one, the lazy, crafty, and ( in all chance ) inebriated clown who however has the gift of good temper and a agile manner with words ; the other the bragger ( besides partial to a ‘dhrop of the besht ‘ ) who is likely to be the soldier or ex-soldier, self-praise of holding seen a great trade of the universe when he has likely been no further from his ain state than some English barracks and cantonment ” ( 1983: 94 ) .

While this “ codification ” of the phase Irishman had continued unabated on English phases throughout the Victorian period ( Bourgeois 1965: 109-10 ) , the nineteenth-century popular theater had attempted a alteration of this stereotype. As the playbill to the first production of Dion Boucicault ‘s The Coleen Bawn publically announced: “ Ireland, so rich in scenery, so full of love affair and the warm touch of nature, has ne’er until now been opened by the playwright. Irish play have hitherto been overdone travesties, stand foring low life or scenes of low servitude and enduring. Such is non a true image of Irish society. [ Playbill for the first production of Dion Boucicault ‘s The Colleen Bawn, New York, 1860, q. in Grene 2002: 5 ]

Widely acknowledged as Britain ‘s prima melodramatist of the mid-nineteenth century, the Irish-born Dionysius Lardner Boucicault wrote some 150 dramas, of which merely 9 are “ Irish dramas ” – incorporating mostly Irish characters and being set in Ireland. Among them, The Colleen Bawn, or The Brides of Garryowen ( 1860 ) , Arrah na Pogue, or The Wicklow Wedding ( 1865 ) and The Shaughraun ( 1875 ) , which are jointly referred to as Boucicault ‘s “ Irish trilogy ” , were to accomplish permanent popularity, being still present in modern repertory.

All three dramas are amusing melodramas, full of love affair and Acts of the Apostless of dare, constructed along resistances such as those established between Englishness and Irishness, upper-class and peasant category, or ownership and eviction, which are, however, overcome in the terminal by the ‘law of the bosom, ‘[ I ]their chief codification of values. Hardress Cregan, the Anglo-Irish landlord, is chastened and reunited with Eily O’Connor, the beautiful Irish provincial miss. Beamish MacCoul, a United Irishman Rebel, is exonerated of guilt by a benevolent Secretary of State, retrieves his estate and his sweetie, Fanny Price. Robert Ffolliott, a Fenian inmate escaped from Australia, receives a Royal forgiveness which allows him to stay in Ireland and befriend the English Captain Molineaux, his future brother-in-law. But in each of these dramas pivotal to the accomplishment of the happy terminations demanded by the genre are the intercessions of Boucicault ‘s Stage Irishmen, Myles na Copaleen, Shaun the Post, and Conn the Shaughraun[ two ]. Though they still wear some of the traditional traits of the dramatic type, being cast as amusing rustics who display a leaning for raillery and coaxing and still ‘put their lips to the jug ‘ with some regularity, these characters are far removed from the utmost silhouette of the figure of ridicule, emerging as more than stereotyped bibulous drunkards to take an active, at times brave portion in the societal, economic and political struggles of their universe. It is Myles ‘s make bolding plunging into H2O that rescues the heroine from submerging, while his selflessness and innate good-heartedness bend him into an agent of the drama ‘s “ jurisprudence of the bosom ” which overcomes all obstructions and unites all divisions between Eily and her hubby. In a similar mode, it is the trueness and courage of characters like Shaun the Post and Conn which prompt them replacement for the patriot heroes whom they attempt to salvage. At the same clip, the inventiveness and humor with which Boucicault endows his Phase Irishmans make them predominate over their antagonists and finally procure the rapprochement of the opposing parties. After holding facilitated the two politically and socially right matrimonies of Arte with Robert, Molineaux with Claire, Conn entreaties to the populace, ask foring hand clapping non merely for his public presentation, but for the reconciliatory happy stoping he has brought about: “ You are the lone friend I have. Long life t’ye! Many a clip you have looked over my mistakes. Will you be blind to them now, and hould out your custodies one time more to a hapless Shaughraun? ” ( Boucicault 1984: 219 )

In what Stephen Watt calls Boucicault “ myth of rapprochement ” ( 1991: 163 ) , the accent is placed on societal coherence, which “ dissipates ” historical and political tensenesss. Moreoever, Ireland becomes a arcadian land where work forces and landscape are likely to harmoniously coexist. If Ford ‘s movie reiterates such a perceptual experience, one should non bury that in the nineteenth century this was the image which seemed to incarnate the reliable Ireland for the audiences herding Dublin ‘s popular theaters, where Boucicault ‘s melodramas were being staged. Using the conventions of the classical romantic comedy, Ford ‘s movie follows a similar form with those of Boucicault ‘s melodramas, “ whereby a immature twosome must get the better of a series of single and societal obstructions before they can eventually acquire married and achieve person and societal rapprochement ” ( Gonzales Casademont 2002: 77 ) . But Ford ‘s phase Irishmans are non offered centre phase places, but cast peripheral to the general push of the secret plan. Furthermore, the characteristic traits of this dramatic stereotype are dispersed across a scope of quaint, but capricious characters, get downing from the railway crew at the Castletown Station, who spend more clip reasoning than driving the train, small town seniors like Dan Tobin and Michaeleen Oge, the matcher whose favorite interest is to run into “ companions ” in Pat Cohan ‘s Public House for a drink and to “ speak a small lese majesty ” , to the jovial Father Peter Lonergan, who plots with the villagers to “ shout like a clump of Protestants ” whenever they meet his opposition, reverend Playfair, an Anglican bishop who owns a church but, evidently, no parishioners in the Catholic small town. An exclusion to these benign incarnations of the phase Irishman is Red Will Danaher, the thick-headed bellicose brother of Kate, who threats and bullies the community and is therefore drawn more along the cruder lines of the stereotype. But in the cloth of Ford ‘s comedy, though force is threatened, it must be finally averted because “ no echt calamities, no scoundrels and no existent suspense ” ( Gonzales Casademont 2002: 77 ) may be accommodated by its ‘law of the bosom ‘ . Though reluctantly, Sean has to confront Will Danaher, in an inevitable confrontation which should unleash the challengers ‘ force. Alternatively, the audience witnesses a mock-heroic battle, which ends uproariously with the two faltering together, arm-in-arm, in bibulous male bonding. Like in Boucicault ‘s melodramas, the donnybrook, which marks the flood tide of the drama, dispels the tensenesss, in conformity to the same “ myth of rapprochement ” . Not merely challengers fraternise, but the villagers make peace with Danaher, and even the deceasing Dan Tobin resurrects, leaping out of his bed on hearing about the battle. But, unlike in Boucicault ‘s dramas, the accelerator of alteration is Thornton himself, the ‘hyphenated ‘ supporter, whose really ambivalence empowers him to do the passage from border to center in a community and a civilization “ at one time unusual and familiar ” ( Gibbons 2002: 103 ) , but finally self-restoring, for Sean comes to reclaim both manhood and topographic point as he “ becomes a ( n Irish ) adult male once more, symbolically absorbing the state by get marrieding Mary Kate ” ( Martin 2007: 97 ) .

On the other manus, by concentrating on a rural Ireland where the provincial is conceived as a figure of quintessential Irishness, The Quiet Man aligns itself to the tradition of the Irish provincial drama, a dramatic interlingual rendition of the nationalist political and cultural position showing Ireland and the Irish national individuality in footings of what distanced it from the colonizer ‘s clasp: the Gaelic manner of life, the rural tradition and the Catholic morality of the little farm life epitomized by familism – a distinguishable set of cultural patterns based on “ the ordinance of gender and undisputed patriarchal authorization ” ( Cairns and Richards 1988: 60 ) evolved during the latter half of the nineteenth-century by Irish renter husbandmans to guarantee proper transmission of household retentions.

As “ a drama with Irish provincial characters, picturing their lives, wonts and imposts in a mode true to life [ and, consequently, ] takes topographic point in a peasant bungalow scene and concerns modern-day Irish jobs and subjects such as out-migration, rural matrimony, wonts and the ownership of lands ” ( Katz Clarke 1982: 122 ) , the “ peasant drama ” came to rule the Abbey phase with its claims at projecting reliable images of the state and, concomitantly, refuting colonial farces or deprecations of the Irish character, such as “ clowning and [ aˆ¦ ] easy sentiment ” ( Gregory 1972: 20 ) endorsed by the phase Irishman.

A comedy like Twenty-Five ( 1903 ) , the first of Lady Gregory ‘s to be performed, may stand as illustrative for an early phase in the development of the peasant drama. Set in a peasant twosome ‘s kitchen, Twenty-five employs non merely the standard scene but besides some of the major concerns of the genre. In conformity to the codifications of rural Ireland, the drama focuses on a patriarchal community in which gender is subordinated to economic necessity: Kate married an older adult male, Michael Ford for the security of a house, abdicating Christie, the adult male she loved, who was forced to emigrate to America in order to gain money. But unlike Synge ‘s insurgent intervention of the subject in his In the Shadow of the Glen ( 1903 ) where Nora Burke defied both community ‘s Torahs and her old and covetous hubby by abandoning domesticity and matrimony in return for the freedom of the unfastened route promised by a Tramp, Twenty-Five does non go from the codifications of familism. Though the lover returns out of the blue with a luck won abroad at the really minute when the twosome have lost all the stuff means to maintain their place, the action validates the position quo: Christie manoeuvres a game of cards at which he intentionally lets Michael win a big amount of money that will enable him to salvage both his house and his matrimony. Though the world portrayed is far from being “ rosy-eyed ” about the result of Christie ‘s act which “ simply leaves her [ Kate ] more to the full cognizant of what she has lost ” ( Pethica 2004: 71 ) , the drama ‘s tone remains blithe and its struggle foregrounds “ hopeful Christian humanitarianism ” embodied by the lover ‘s selflessness as both ideal and “ a provocative inspiration ” ( Pethica 2004: 71 ) .

A sombre tone and gloomier contours characterise Padraic Colum ‘s representations of rural Ireland. The Land ( 1905 ) , set at the terminal of the Land Wars, trades with the generational struggles between Murtagh Cosgar and his boy, Mat, over the value of the old rural manner of life. Pressed by the ambitious school-teacher Ellen Douras to seek his luck by emigrating to America ( such as all of his senior brothers did ) , Mat will finally go forth behind the land for which his male parent fought so difficult to maintain integral. In conformity to the conventions of the genre, Colum ‘s drama embodied a subject of confidant and recognizable societal significance in its existent scene, and though love was presented as a riotous force, it was non improper. Furthermore, it raised the inquiry of the worth of the Fieldss won after the Land War in the altering conditions of the countryside where the fittest chose out-migration, while the comparatively dull and nonenterprising Sally Cosgar and Cornelius Duras remained behind to get married and win their parents. Lennox Robison ‘s The Harvest ( 1910 ) went farther into chase awaying idealising myths about the life of rural Ireland. Set on the farm of the Hurley household, the drama juxtaposed two manners of being represented through a generational struggle between a male parent and his kids: the traditional rural mores and imposts epitomised by those on the farm set against the new, urban values of those who had chosen out-migration to Dublin, London, or America. Like in Colum ‘s The Field, the drama bit by bit drew to its bleak closing which questioned the worth of both: while the state ideal was shattered by holding old Hurley ( faced with the bankruptcy of the farm ) commit incendiarism in order to rip off the insurance company, the emigre ‘s myth of success was besides cast in uncertainty by uncovering the unpleasant truths in the lives of the Hurley kids.

In the custodies of subsequent dramatists like George Shiels, John Murphy, or John B Keane the provincial drama continued to bear informant to farther alterations undergone in rural Ireland, frequently chew overing on the loss of its traditions through exposure to the modern universe, which propagates urban criterions of life and commercialises the peasant civilization as folklore. However, as Hans Georg Stalder has argued in his survey of the genre, a bunch of subjects provides the nexus between early and later dramas: “ violent defense mechanism or acquisition of the land, resigned or hopeful flight into a different sort of life, and nostalgic return ” ( 978: 149 ) . It is this last facet that most evidently aligns The Quiet Man to the tradition of the Abbey provincial drama.

Because “ out-migration is at the Centre of the Irish experience of being modern ”[ three ]( Pettitt 2000: 64 ) , the figure of the returned emigre has frequently made its visual aspect within the cloth of the peasant drama, to the extent that it has been turned into a phase convention. As Stalder comments: “ The homecomer, who had left his parents ‘ farm and established himself in a non-farming society, was used in contrast to the provincials. As an foreigner, he could do their foibles and attitudes seeable, he could be used as a observer on the phase or as an illustration of an emigre ‘s prosperity or bad luck ” ( 1978: 145 ) . Like Jack Hurley, the homecomer in Robinson ‘s The Harvest, Sean Thornton has left his provincial background to set up himself in a non-farming society as represented by the industrial and urban American universe. While for Jack the new environment has functioned in a positive manner, enabling his instruction and opening up possibilities of promotion on the societal graduated table, Sean ‘s American experience has anticlimactically triggered “ dehumanizing labor in the steel Millss of industrial Pittsburgh [ aˆ¦ ] and the emotionally annihilating experience of holding killed a adult male in a award battle ” ( Martin Renes 2007: 96 ) . For both Jack and Sean the return place is at foremost conceived as an flight necessary for economic ( Jack ) or emotional ( Sean ) endurance. Nevertheless, in Jack ‘s instance, his idealized position of the countryside, inflated by romantic memories of topographic point every bit good as nationalist rhetoric, collides with the world of the farm life vis-a-vis which he queerly finds himself now cast as foreigner. Far from being a journey in self-discovery, the return place becomes an estranging experience pressing Jack ‘s 2nd going from the state as the lone healing step. The Quiet Man reverses this form. Equally idealized as a fairy-tale semblance of beauty and childhood artlessness, Sean will hold to prove his dream against the world of place to be allowed the passage from foreigner to insider. And beneath the dream-like and playful surface of Ford ‘s movie which is considered to hold fostered “ the idealized Ireland of the exile myth ” ( Gonzales Casademont 2002: 76 ) the subjects of familism resurface in scenes portraying “ adult females veiled and half-cloistered ” , “ Inisfree ‘s omnipresent rock walls, the masochism of wooing regulations, the statuesque crowds that gather and lout at their every measure ” and the floor-level shooting of the nave, “ the strongest image in the movie [ bespeaking ] the funny power of an establishment that has integrated itself with local usage ” ( Gallagher 2007: 342, 343 ) . Christie, in Gregory ‘s Twenty-five, is another dreamer who tests his aspirations against the world of place. But his selflessness, which alleviates the material status of place, fails to interrupt its rites and imposts, as Kate remains trapped in the asepsis of a loveless matrimony. In order to be accepted into the community, Sean has to accept its world and besides attend to its imposts, at the disbursal of cultural or personal norms inherited from his American experience. But by undergoing the rites of the dowery, Sean besides manages to alter them “ and the throwing off of ‘the stick to crush the lovely lady ‘ gestures towards the terminal of the societal order which brought Kieran O’Day to his day of reckoning ” ( Gibbons 2002: 103 ) .

Gerry Smyth has referred to the double form of attacks runing throughout the history of modern Irish decolonization in footings of the broad versus the extremist manners of discourse ( in Gauthier 2000: 340 ) . Therefore, if in the first one, like Boucicault partly attempted in his amusing melodramas, the colonized demands to be recognised as an equal nisus to accomplish “ a non-ideological kingdom in which colonizer and colonised can discourse in an guiltless linguistic communication ” ( Gauthier 2000: 340 ) , the extremist one, which may be exemplified by familism and the peasant drama, focuses on difference and on features which seek to contradict lower status by change by reversaling the negativeness of colonial discourse. Nevertheless, while the broad attack strives for the impossible, because “ there is no ‘outside ‘ or ‘beyond ‘ [ political orientation ] to which the colonial topic can get away ” ( Gauthier 2000: 341 ) , the extremist 1 is besides undermined by its oppositional scheme, which one time once more stresses the difference dividing colonizer from colonised and corroborating the place of the former. What is advocated is a 3rd manner of attack that, while accepting “ the necessity of working within aˆ¦ the Manichaean footings of colonialism ” ( Gauthier 2000: 341 ) subverts and destabilises them by turn uping “ minutes of transiency, instability and in-authenticity ” ( Gauthier 2000: 366 ) which question the ways in which individuality is framed.

Ford ‘s The Quiet Man may be seen to conform to this last way. In its representational scope, the filmic text recycles in order to mix cultural paradigms of Irishness inherited through a native theatrical tradition with a strong claim to genuineness. For the late 19th-century audiences, Boucicault ‘s phase populated by beautiful colleens and clever, resourceful phase Irishmen was supposed to stand for the ‘real ‘ Ireland. For the early 20th-century ( and beyond ) 1s, rural Ireland with its Gaelic traditions blended with the familism ‘s Catholic mores was the legitimate nucleus of Irishness. But one time coalesced into The Quiet Man ‘s ‘motley crew ‘ , such images expose their unreal nature and name into inquiry the really mechanics by which they have acquired truth value.

Decision or on The Quiet Man ‘s quiet demystification

It is this reading of Ford ‘s movie as a possible post-colonial text that subverts the really images it seems to project which seems to rule the more recent critical argument. Paul Gilroy has drawn attending to the fact that “ The Quiet Man is non so much a sentimental movie as a movie about how such mawkishness operates aˆ¦ Mystification in Ford tends to be accompanied by demystification ” ( 2002: 91 ) . Likewise, in his full-length survey dedicated to the movie, Luke Gibbons has adhered to a similar stance, sing that the movie undertakes the challenge of battling stereotypes non by “ demoing the world behind the myth, but the world of the myth and its building ” ( 2002: 96 ) . And, as Rosa Gonzalves ( 2002 ) has demonstrated in her critical reappraisal of Ford ‘s phase Irishry, the movie contests its alleged myth of sentimentalizing and trivializing the worlds of 1950s Ireland by highlighting its ain artificiality non merely by puting its action in the West of Ireland, already a ‘country of the imaginativeness ‘ via the Revivalists ‘ myth of “ a pastoral, mystical, laudably crude ” ( Kiberd 1986: 92 ) , but besides through a series of metafictional devices like the voice over storyteller who frames Sean ‘s narrative and therefore switch the accent from existent myth to the myth-making procedure, or characters who all of a sudden face or gesture at the camera and beyond it, the audience straight, and therefore name attending to the obvious artificiality of the screen semblance.

But the most dry reminder of the artificiality of the movie ‘s representational tactics remains its ocular background, that lavishly-painted and alien scenery which is supposed to picture an reliable Irish landscape. And yet, as Eamon Slater ‘s analysis of the landscape aesthetic of The Quiet Man proves, by hiting the movie in the parklands of Ashford Castle, Co. Mayo – an 18th-century Anglo-Irish picturesque garden aimed as a reproduction of English informal gardens of the same period – Ford “ engaged in the ultimate act of a post-colonialist, doing an English garden the most globally recognized representation of Irish landscape ” ( 2009: 17 ) .

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