‘Star of the Sea’ by Joseph o Connor is a text set during the Irish Potato Famine, in 1847. The Irish Potato famine of the 1840s was the greatest social catastrophe of 19th century Europe, yet inspired surprisingly little imaginative writing. (Eagleton, 2002) However this book has been described by the Sunday Times as having ‘compelling characters and a dizzying narrative’ (Heaney, 2007) This compelling story is set around a wealthy, turned bankrupt, land owner and his family who flee to America, the promised land, in search of a new life. They are joined on this journey by a range of other passengers whose previous lives are in entwined together in a past that won’t let them go. The book has been written as ‘multi-layered, with the story told by several voices’ (Spain, 2007) One has chosen to take an in depth look at Lord Kingscourt and the type of man he is, from three different perspectives. These perspectives are looked at through the eyes of himself, GG Dixon and Mary Duane. One will be looking at his opinion of himself, as read in Chapter 2, ‘The Victim’. This chapter shows Lord Kingscourt in a positive light from the onset. We will get a brief insight into his childhood, his relationship with his father and how this affects his relationship with his own children now. We see that Lord Kingscourt has a close relationship with his children that most men of that period do not have, he takes part in their upbringing, ‘Excuse my lateness, Lord Kingscourt said, There are two little chaps i know who insist on being told bedtime stories.’ (O Connor, 2003, Page 7) One will see the different kinds of relationships he has with people from every walk of life and the compassion and consideration he shows towards lower classes. This will be followed by GG Dixon’s opinion in chapter 3, ‘The Cause’. One will discover that GG Dixon’s opinion of Lord Kingscourt is a complete contrast of the previous chapter discussed. The chapter has been written in the style of a newspaper article. It has been written by GG Dixon in retaliation to a letter which Lords Kingscourt has sent him. The article is very hostile and repeatedly tries to portrait Lord Kingscourt as a nasty, cruel and insensitive man. He tries using several underhand and malicious tactics in which to do this. ‘Recently Lord Kingscourt has cautioned in this newspaper: “everything about this Irish famine is more complicated that it appears.” So it is. Unlike the legion of victims, His Lordship enjoys the luxury of being alive to debate its complications.’ (Ibid. Page 20) One will be concluding with Mary Duane, his nanny, in chapter 8, ‘The Thing Not Said’. Mary Duane’s opinion of Lord Kingscourt again sees him in a positive and sympathetic light. ‘His manner was gentle, amiable to everyone; though only when drawing a portrait could he look anyone directly in the eyes.’ She discusses him and their relationship, as children, in depth. One will also be looking at his life before and after his mother’s death. One will see how this also affects his relationship with his father and how his teenage years were spent in an English boarding school. Once one has finished examining these different opinions, one will discuss and consider ones overall opinion of Lord Kingscourt, from a reader’s point of view.
The first time we hear about Lords Kingscourt we are given his full title, ‘The Right Honourable Thomas David Nelson Merridith, the noble Lord Kingscourt, the Viscount of Roundstone, the ninth Earl of Cashel, Kilkerrin and Carna’ (Ibid, Page 5), immediately from this we learn that Lord Kingscourt is an upper class member of Irish society and also part of the Irish Aristocrey. However in our first encounter with the man himself we learn that he does not hold typical arsctocrecy or landlord attitudes. On entering the dining room ‘a Negro’ (Ibid, Page 5) has dropped a tray of champagne flutes on the floor and has preceded to slice open his...
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