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Freedom and Responsibility in Dancing at Lughnasas

In: English and Literature

Submitted By droid225
Words 659
Pages 3
The theme of freedom and responsibility appear throughout Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa. In particular the extract highlights the responsibility Kate feels she has over her family. She is the stabilizing economic and social force holding the family together and therefore takes on the role of maintaining the household. She is dismissive of allowing the Mundy sisters to attend the dance because she realises that it would interfere with her responsibilities. As a result the entire conversation of attending the Lughnasa festival is ‘silly talk’ to her.
Kate is also concerned about the responsibilities of her sisters as well. She believes Chris’ circumstances are not deemed appropriate for such an event as she reminds her that ‘you have a seven year old child’. While this is Kate’s view it seems to represent that of their society also. In fact, Kate is also trying to protect her family’s name amongst the community as she feels that it has been already tarnished by Father Jack’s paganism, and for that reason she takes on the responsibility of preserving any remaining respect and dignity in the Mundy household. Kate is afraid that her sister’s would worsen the situation by embarrassing themselves and shaming her family which is shown when she says ‘do you want the whole countryside to be laughing at us?’ She refuses to give in to the idea and even says ‘I don’t want it mentioned again’, which shows that she considers the festival to be a risk for the said reasons.
Kate is used to having such responsibility due to her profession as a teacher at the local school. She is therefore expected to be a suitable and respectful role model to the children that she teaches, a responsibility that she upholds dearly. This is evident in the line ‘crawling with cheeky young brats that I taught years ago?’ as it shows that she is concerned with her job as well as her image, especially to young people. These values that Kate upholds are favoured in the Catholic orthodox community of Ballybeg. She represents the repressive force of Christianity.’ Just look at yourselves!’ she shouts at her sisters, ‘Dancing at your time of day. That’s for young people with no duties and no responsibilities and nothing in their heads but pleasure’. In Kate’s eyes, dancing is ‘pagan’, associated with a kind of sexual freedom which contravenes her strict Catholicism.
Kate is often restricted by her responsibilities. She realises that she would have to abandon her values of order and responsibility if she was to enjoy herself at the festival. Although she is tempted by the thought of going after Agnes informs her that ‘you look great in that cotton dresses’, Kate ultimately panics over the thought as she begins to lose control.
On the other hand, the other Mundy sisters show that they are ‘game’ for the festival of Lughnasa. Agnes expresses her interest in going as she states that ‘I’m only thirty-five, I want to dance!’ which shows her desire to have more freedom like Chris, Rose and Maggie. It also suggests that she wants to recapture her youthful passions as she exclaims that her age does not matter. Kate’s contrasting desire for order in turn demonstrates that Kate is restricting the freedom of her sisters as she refuses to let them go to the dance. There is a binary opposition between dancing/freedom and catholic repression. Kate is shocked to hear Sophia McLaughlin’s enthusiasm for the dance ‘you’d think it was heaven she was talking about’
Freedom is presented through music and dance. The sisters, except Kate, are attracted to the festival due to the prospect of dancing -‘oh God, you know how much I loved dancing, Aggie!’ In the play, dancing signifies a freeing of human behaviour, transmitted through the music on the radio which is described as ‘Marconi’s voodoo’. The audience sees this when the sister’s start dancing to the music on the Marconi.…...

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