Field Day Group And Women Victimization

1013 words - 4 pages

In her essay, Lauren Onkey reveals how colonialism and nationalism victimize women in the past. Traditionally, woman is considered inferior and weaker whereas man is superior and powerful. This sexist characterization of gender is based on the assumption of sexual dominance. During the period of colonization, Colonial power deliberately describes the colonies as feminine “to justify its ‘civilizing’ mission” (160). Since then, woman becomes the symbol and property of nation. Thence, the nation assumes the right to ‘supervise’ her behavior. Richard Kearney suggests “the symbol of woman as nation as a somewhat benevolent response to colonial conquest” (160). The ‘elevation’ of woman as a symbol and property of nation is problematic at least to women because it makes self-determination inapplicable to women. In Ireland specifically, women’s issues are defined as trivial compared to the more important issues of nationalism. The Field Day group which is supposed to “rethink ideas about the nation, literature, politics and culture” fails to include the issues of women in its agenda. Onkey argues that Field Day simply ignores the creative works produced by women and topics of women, sexuality and gender are absent in most literary discourse. Female writers are also marginalized since “of over 300 writers included covering 1500 years, only 39 are women” (162).

Onkey also believes Translations by Brian Friel – Field Day’s first theatrical production – has been misunderstood by most critics to be largely about colonialism and nationalism. Critics rarely mention about women’s issues which are essential in the play. Onkey disagrees with most critics who interpret the female characters – Maire and Sarah – exclusively based on a nationalistic perspective. She believes Friel tries to unveil the symbolic burden that women carry through the female personas. For instance, Maire’s sexual transgression is intolerable in her community because she is seen as a symbol and property of Baile Beag. Hence, Lieutenant Yolland’s attempt to possess Maire is considered as a threat to the community. In this case, Maire’s freedom is hampered by her symbolic status. Onkey claims that critics tend to see the struggle between Irish and English language as the key issue in Translations. She dismisses this simple observation and suggests that it is unfair because the female roles in the play are automatically excluded from the linguistic struggle since Maire and Sarah have little to do with it. Onkey believes that women’s issues should be highlighted and many critics fail to grasp the bigger idea behind Brian Friel’s Translations which is “misreading is the inevitable result of reading symbolically, without ambiguity, based solely on myths and stereotypes” (164).

To support her argument, Onkey draws our attention to the first scene of the play in which Friel presents the legendary case of Grania who causes the division in her community by following her desire and defying the...

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