The Irish Psyche as Portrayed through Miranda in Jennifer Johnston's Fool’s Sanctuary
In her novel Fool’s Sanctuary, Jennifer Johnston reflects on the Irish psyche and gives an insight into some of the factors that appear to create such a unique culture. This aspect of the novel is explored particularly through the novel’s protagonist, Miranda. She acts like a symbol, the embodiment of the typical Irish person. Miranda’s characteristics, attitudes and values are shaped by the influences of her country, therefore reflecting possibilities that typically set the Irish people apart. These characteristics include a symbolic and surreal outlook on life, a love of poetry and music, the importance placed on memories, a sense of humour, the way they love and an inability to accept happiness as reality.
Ireland is a spectacular island whipped by harsh weather, steeped in history and torn by wars that have raged for centuries and it is these aspects that contribute to the Irish psyche. Great Irish writers throughout history, such as Yeats and Joyce, have written about these influences in Ireland and the impact that they have on its people. Johnston equally explores similar concepts in Fools’ Sanctuary. It is a powerful story, Miranda’s story, showing how the turmoil in Ireland in the 1920’s affects an individual’s life and changes it irrevocably. Johnston’s delicate mixture of emotion and caustic observations provide a unique analysis of the Irish psyche. Furthermore, she explores the concept that many of the characteristics that are developed are fundamentally self-destructive. Miranda tries not to be affected by Ireland’s conflict and there are a number of ways in which she tries to escape. However, ultimately this only ends in h...
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...trayed by Johnston. However, Fool’s Sanctuary, not only serves as an exploration of the unique characteristics of the Irish people, it also serves as an explanation. It is an explanation, offering an insight into why certain traits are unique to the Irish psyche, what the traits could be attributed to and how they ultimately lead to self-destruction. Jennifer Johnston’s careful and powerful depiction of Ireland at the brink of war, is like a magnifying glass and when examined, it essentially reveals a unique portrayal of the Irish psyche.
The Student May Wish to begin the essay with one or more of the quotes below:
Out of Ireland we have come.
Great Hatred, little room,
maimed us at the start..... W.B. YEATS, 1931
The Irishman’s house is his coffin. J.A. JOYCE, 1922
Johnston, Jennifer. Fool’s Sanctuary London: Hamish Hamilton 1987