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John Bull's Other Island

doyle ireland priest shaw

a play by G. B. Shaw, first performed in 1904, mainly set in its author's native Ireland. Larry Doyle, an Irish civil engineer settled in London, returns to his own island with his business partner, a sentimental, self-satisfied, but practical Englishman named Thomas Broadbent. Doyle, who regards Ireland as a land of frustrated dreamers and futile cynics, is at first seen by the priest and other community leaders as a possible parliamentary candidate; but his views are too unorthodox, and perhaps too Shavian, for them. Broadbent, who thinks that ‘Home Rule will work wonders under English guidance’, manages to express his complacent Liberal Party beliefs in an acceptable way; and ends up winning the local heiress, somehow turning a comical car trip with a pig to his political advantage, and preparing to bring hotels and golf links to the undeveloped countryside. The play, though full of humorous observation and entertaining argument, shows Shaw's feelings of alienation when he reflected on Ireland. Aspects of the dramatist are to be found both in the bitter Doyle, who is clearly more comfortable in England, and in the ex-priest Peter Keegan, who speaks with sombre power about his ‘ignorant and oppressed land’ and with ringing pessimism of his conviction that the world itself is ‘hell’.

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