By D. Stubbings

Anglo-Irish Modernism and the Maternal argues concentrate on the development of mother-figures in Irish tradition illuminates the extreme fulfillment of the Irish modernists. primarily, the seminal Irish modernists—Moore, Joyce, Synge, Yeats, and O'Casey—resisted these mother-figures sanctioned via cultural discourses, re-writing her so that it will elude her. during this, they not just re-constituted language and illustration, they accessed and re-figured and their very own inventive sleves.

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52 Esther Water's powerful instincts provide a stark contrast to those of Kate Ede in A Mummer's Wife. Kate belies Laura Forrest's determination that there exists `in every woman [the instinct] to mother something'; Kate's natural instincts (`it was not without surprise that she caught herself wishing suddenly [the girls in the workroom] were her own children. . it was the first time a desire for motherhood had ever troubled her'53) have been blunted by both the mummer's life and the restricted life Kate led with her husband and mother-in-law.

That Esther finally succumbs to Will's proposal reflects not merely her desire to see Jackie attain his `estate' but the virility of the social order. And it is the renewal of this order which tempers the novel's resolution ± the celebration, albeit subdued, of the survival of Esther and her son. Society's resistance to the affirmation of the individual is echoed in Esther's return at the close of the novel to the point where she began: physically and spiritually she has come almost full circle, and society has barely registered the struggle she made against it.

The question is as difficult as the cognate question of what are our duties towards others. And your letters raise all these questions. . '61 It is by allowing himself to be absorbed into her life that his self, his identity, begins to disintegrate. 63 Released from the narrow constrictions of the Irish Catholic priesthood, and the word on which that priesthood is based ± `The Catholic Church had come to the end of its thread; the spool seemed pretty well empty, and he sat down that he might think better what the new faith might be'64 ± he discovers a new world in her, a world of unleashed spirit and imagination.

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