Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel

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Discuss the relationship between individual and collective memory in Dancing at Lughnasa.

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Brian Friel examines both collective memory and individual memory in his play Dancing at Lughnasa.

Friel explores the uses of, and the differing relations to, memory in many different ways throughout the play, from the wistful longing for days gone by, to the struggle to remember things once important that have been lost in the nooks and crannies of the mind (Murphy).

Michael opens the play with the statement:

When I cast my mind back to that summer of 1936 different kinds of memories offer themselves to me (Friel).

We see how the story will be framed through Michael's memory; he is an adult looking back on his childhood. Here we have the individual memory at play. However, he then goes on to explain how the memory of the summer is characterized by the arrival of their first wireless set, as well as the Harvest Festival of Lughnasa. So although the story is filtered through Michael's individual memory, we are getting a glimpse into the collective memory of the Mundy family and the rural...

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