Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Lucina P. Gabbard


The purpose of this thesis is to show the plight of the family in Northern Ireland. The four plays which are the subject of this study--Within Two Shadows by Wilson John Haire, The Flats By John Boyd, Nightfall to Belfast by Patrick Galvin, and The Death of Humpty Dumpty by J. Graham Reid--deal with this innocent faction and highlight three principal effects of the troubles on their family lives. First, the families suffer internal division. They are alienated by religious/political differences which are as inseparable in these dramas as they are in Northern Irish life. Socialist doctrine opposes Christian doctrine; Catholicism opposes Protestantism, and both are opposed by those who see no place at all for religion in Northern Ireland's recovery efforts. Similarly interlocked are the divisions formed by education and age. The educated young sharply contrast with the old and more conservative family members--in their positions towards the current strife as well as in their hopes for the future. Second, the families in these plays suffer as victims of the violent events in which they have become entangled. These events take the form of attacks on family members or their homes which often lead to outright murders. Finally, these families suffer the physical and emotional damage which is the aftermath of the senseless discord in Northern Irish life.