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    Towards a Critical Reappraisal of Kate O’Brien’s The Flower of May


    Tighe-Mooney, Sharon (2014) Towards a Critical Reappraisal of Kate O’Brien’s The Flower of May. Irish University Review, 44 (2). pp. 272-287. ISSN 1755-6198

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    Abstract

    This essay reassesses Kate O'Brien's The Flower of May, and argues that the novel presents as close to a conclusion as practicable to the themes O'Brien worked on throughout her fiction – the freedom to choose one's path in life, the negotiation of cultural, ethical and familial mores, as well as the importance of education for women. A close reading of the text suggests that the mother-daughter relationship symbolizes the rejection by the heroine, Fanny Morrow, of her mother Julia, who represents Mother Ireland, its customs and conventions, towards the fulfilment of Fanny's ambition for independence through education. This aspiration is achieved by Julia's death, which leaves Fanny free to live her life on her own terms, outside the constraints of familial bonds. Intertwined with the unfolding of the narrative is the recurring motif of the lighthouse, with its haunting presence during key moments of the plot, which is utilized as a symbol of nation, as well as a means of framing the diverging paths of mother and daughter.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Critical Reappraisal; Kate O'Brien; The Flower of May;
    Academic Unit: Centre for Teaching and Learning
    Item ID: 6676
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.3366/iur.2014.0124
    Depositing User: Sharon Tighe-Mooney
    Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2015 16:27
    Journal or Publication Title: Irish University Review
    Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
    Refereed: Yes
    URI:

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