Dancing at Lughnasa

Categories: DanceReligion

Re-read Dancing at Lughnasa from the end of Act 1, page 38 (the stage direction ‘Father Jack enters’) to page 42 (bottom of the page). Discuss the importance of ‘ceremony’ and its effect on an audience in this extract and in the play as a whole.

Brian’s Friel “Dancing at Lughnasa” portrays the use of ceremonies within the play. The play enables the audience to relate to the different cultures portrayed within the play and the contrast between the Irish and African Culture.

This extract emphasises the contrast between the two cultures and significantly represents the importance in ceremonies within both cultures and how it is an ultimate way of escaping.

The play is set during the Lughnasa festival this is significant in the sense that when Father Jack returns from his time in Uganda the audience are able to compare the two different ways of life, rituals and ceremonies in Uganda and Ireland. Throughout the play, the sisters discuss the Lughnasa festival that they know only from a rumour.

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Kate forbids discussion of the ceremonies but curiosity still hovers. Though the women appear to be practicing Catholics, there is a conspicuous lack of religious ritual in their lives. Religion functions more as a set of rules and admonishments than as a source of strength and spiritual renewal.

Perhaps it’s not the faith they yearn for, but the ceremony. Father Jack also speaks about of animal sacrifices in Africa. He struggles to describe the rituals and finds himself at a loss for words.

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He has to grope for the word “ceremony.” This emphasises how important this part of the play is, and enables the audience to fully comprehend the word ceremony. He suggests that in the realm of ritual, spoken language is unnecessary. Like the Celtic-inspired dance that the Mundy sisters seem ready to burst into at any moment, ritual transcends language and intellect. ”Coming back in the boat there were days when I couldn’t remember even the simplest words,” he says. ”Not that anybody seemed to notice.’ The importance of the ceremony is recognisable when the conflicts between religion and tradition are introduced, “our calendar of ceremonies gets fuller every year” this implies how adaptable the faith in Uganda is and how it is inclusive of everything, in contrast to Katie and the Irish way of living that it can only be one or the other.

“The Irish outcast he calls me…To keep me going native” furthermore this highlights how unaccepting the Irish culture is to other religions. The Lughnasa festival is seen as a way of escapism, the festival is situated in the back hills an area not recognised with catholic religion, this represents Ireland’s link with paganism, in contrast to its strong catholic community. This is reflected by the fact that the name ‘Lugh’ is a Pagan god, so the days and weeks to follow are celebrated in its name “Because in the old days August the first was La Lughnasa, the feast day of the pagan god Lugh”. Father Jack mentions the sacrifice of a goat or other animals during the Ryanga festivals, up to the “great Goddess of the Earth”, in order to cleanse the spirits of the tribe. The Lughnasa Festival involves, as we hear from rose, how they “drive cattle through the flames to drive the devil out of them”.

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Dancing at Lughnasa. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/re-read-dancing-lughnasa-end-act-3893-new-essay

Dancing at Lughnasa

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