‘They told me I shamed my husband an’ th’ women of Ireland be carryin’ on the way I was ... They said th’ women must learn to be brave an’ cease to be cowardly ... me who risked more for love than they would for hate!’
The Plough and The Stars
This is a tragedy in four acts.
There are also certain elements of comedy and farce in the play.
The Plough and the Stars written by Seán O'Casey and first performed on February 8, 1926 by the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
It is the third of his well known "Dublin Trilogy" – the other two being The Shadow of a Gunman (1923) and Juno and the Paycock (1924).
This story is set in the Dublin tenements in the year 1916. It centres on a young married couple called Jack and Nora Clitheroe. Jack is a member of the Irish Citizen Army. Nora is ambitious to move out of the tenements and to prevent her husband from involving himself further in politics. Jack learns that she has burned a letter which tells him that he has been promoted Commandant and he is to lead a reconnaissance attack on Dublin Castle. Jack is furious and leaves the house at once. We get some insight into the particular quality of tenement life through the various characters. Mollser is a young girl who is the final stages of tuberculosis. She ironically tells Nora how she envies her health and happy home. Later on in the play Nora becomes pregnant and loses her child. She also goes mad with grief over the loss of her husband.
The story shows the whole futility of violence and its devastating effect on people. Jack is killed in the rising. Bessie Burgess another tenement dweller who espouses the cause of the British is shot by British soldiers at the conclusion of the play.
General Vision or Viewpoint
The overall vision in this play is one of bleak hopelessness in the face of the violence in Ireland in 1916. The total inability of violence to remedy basic needs such as poverty, illness, loneliness and unhappiness is highlighted throughout this play. There are minglings of joy and sorrow, laughter and tears which render it a realistic insight into society. The enormous destruction caused by war and violence is evident from this play.
The play is set in the Dublin tenements in the year 1916. A time of unrest and revolution in Ireland and Europe. A time of war and great loss.
There are references to poverty and destitution.
Bessie Burgess and Mrs. Gogan go out to raid the shops during the riots.
The pub plays an important role in the social life at that time.
Tuberculosis was a common ailment at that time.