‘Making History’ by Brian Friel. Essay

Words: 1798
Pages: 8

‘Making History’ by Brian Friel.

In this essay the author examines the extent to which Is the character of Hugh O’Neill is more influenced by private feelings or by public duty.

In Brian Friels play ‘Making History’ the reader wonders whether the character of Hugh O’Neill is more influenced by private feelings or public duty. By “private feeling’s” I mean beliefs, private views and opinions and his ‘public duty’ is his obligations to the Irish people. It should be noted that Friels portrayal of the character O’Neill caused great controversy amongst readers. The strong Irish man O’Neill was once seen as in history is no longer present. Instead we see a very complex and almost emotional character in Friel’s play. This leads us to
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Harry tells him of a letter received from Sir William Fitzwilliam and how he was wants an early response but Hugh being preoccupied replies with “This jacket Harry-what do you think? It’s not a bit …excessive, is it?” Here Hugh lets his private feelings for Mabel interfere with his public duty.

Another issue of Hugh’s private feeling’s to do with Mabel is the fact that Mabel is a protestant. Hugh marring a protestant caused great controversy in the play as this seemed very out of character for a Gaelic Chieftain. This was because of the context of the play. Set in 1591 when Irish Catholics and Protestant English would constantly been in battle with each other. Mixed marriages were completely unheard of. Such reactions from Hugh’s friends were “Hold on, Hugh-wait now-wait-wait. You can’t marry into the Upstarts!” and “Those new English are all half tramps…..as long as he has that Upstart bitch with him, there’ll be no welcome for him in Tyrconnell!” At this point Friel uses the dramatic technique of language to convey O’Donnell’s depth of negative feeling towards the English Upstarts. Hugh knows what kind of negative reaction he will get by marrying Mabel but he doesn’t care. He knows that he will lose respect from some of his people as marrying the English would be seen as treachery. He lets his private feelings of love towards Mabel influence what he does rather than his public duty.

Just before the