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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 233

Through its representation of a long line of inept (and hard-drinking, litigious, abusive, and so on) owners, this short novel pokes fun at the Anglo-Irish, a class of people living in Ireland who are descended from the English. They participated in the Ascendancy: the era extending from the seventeenth century through the beginning of the twentieth century when Protestant English landowners held all economic and political power in Ireland. The novel also seems to herald this group's eventual and inevitable demise, as the Rackrent estate is eventually sold by Sir Condy, the final family owner of the estate, to the son of the steward who narrates the text. Thady Quirk's son, Jason, eventually exploits the financial situation in which Sir Condy finds himself when he runs out of money (due, in part, to his generosity), and his wife's father refuses to help them financially. The castle itself falls into disrepair, an appropriate symbol of the future breakdown of the Anglo-Irish. Jason purchases both the castle and the land around it, waving golden guineas in Sir Condy's face, knowing that the nobleman who has not had cash in a long time will be unable to resist. The fact that the nobility no longer has money while Jason, an attorney, is flush with it also seems to point to the idea that, at some point, a new social and political order will arise in Ireland.

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Critical Essays