To what extent can it be argued that Castle Rackrent is a violent novel?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The story of Thady Quirk as he records his observations about his masters, the Rackrents, and their various foibles and failings, cannot really be described as a violent book. Whether it is through personal bias or a reluctance to elaborate, the incidents of this story that could be seen as being potentially violent are narrated in a way that factually presents the facts rather than exaggerates the violence and aggression. One key place where this can be seen is at the beginning of the text, when Lord Rackrent locks his wife in her room because, being Jewish, she refuses to come down to the table because her husband is eating pork. Note how this event is narrated:

...and from that day forward always sausages or bacon, or pig meat, in some shape or other, went up to table; upon which my lady shut herself up in her own room, and my master said she might stay there, with an oath; and to make sure of her, he turned the key in the door, and kept it ever after in his pocket. We none of us ever saw or heard her speak for seven years after that.

Although Lord Rackrent clearly imprisons his wife in her room and mistreats her, this act is quickly rushed over and not focused on. The same approach can be discerned in the way that Thady Quirk narrates how the same master actually died through a duel. The actual event is narrated very briefly and the violence in the situation is not explored or made much of. Therefore, overall, this novel cannot really be described as being violent. Whilst it does include violent acts as Thady Quirk relates the history of the Rackrents, the manner of narration does not focus much on this violence and such events are rather glided over without emphasising the violent acts implicit in such events.

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