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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"Necessary Contempt" : an analysis of Martin McDonagh's Aran Island trilogy Garcia, Ernesto


In a narrative sense, how does a point of view create imaginable space in Martin McDonagh’s Aran Island Trilogy? And what role does bricolage, selective intertextuality, and postmodern pastiche play in the construction of imaginable space? McDonagh’s Aran Island Trilogy is a complex postmodern construction. It is not simply an appropriation of an iconic location, even though that is part of it, but something more of a subjective response which depends for its strength on a conviction that representation on stage is a form of truth. My research utilizes scholarship on the Aran Islands in conjunction with poets, filmmakers, and playwrights who engaged with these particular islands imaginatively. I illustrate how their diverse points of view created imaginable space that builds from a special place in western Irish imagery, a place that owes much to the late nineteenth century. Also, my examination focuses on McDonagh’s Aran Island Trilogy. These plays represent a new mix of messages, symbols, and cultures that reflect the postmodern condition. I employ two important postmodern thinkers to analyse McDonagh’s work through a postmodern filter: Umberto Eco for his theory of intertextuality, and Charles Jencks’ argument that postmodernism involves double coding the representation of modernism with something else----some Other. My research makes use of Robert Warshow and Carol Clover’s analysis of film genres: the Western and the slasher film. Also, I interrogate John Waters’ evaluation of McDonagh as a punk rock playwright in conjunction with the punk rock aesthetics of Shane MacGowan and the Pogues. These studies offer a methodological framework for my analysis of McDonagh’s style of representation: I argue that McDonagh’s punk-inspired mockery hollows out the primitivist representation of the Aran Islands and fills it with a postmodern plurality. Furthermore, the unsettling effect in McDonagh’s Aran Island Trilogy is due largely to the fact that he yokes the screen to the stage, and he fuses elements from the classical canon of Irish drama with popular genres from American cinema.

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