As the Crow Flies: A Lyric Play for the Air Characters

Austin C. Clarke

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Father Virgilius

Father Virgilius, a middle-aged monk and guide for the younger brothers. His primary function at the monastery of Clonmacnoise is working in the scriptorum, copying ancient manuscripts. As a devoted man of God, he interprets all phenomena in a specifically Christian context. He trusts in divine providence, even in the face of the gigantic storm in which they find themselves caught. He can see the operations of nature only as divine symbols and attempts to teach both Manus and Aengus that lesson.

Brother Aengus

Brother Aengus, a brother-novice in his late teens or early twenties. More venturesome than Brother Manus, he discovers the ancient cave of a holy man, a hermit, and feels his spiritual presence very keenly. Although frightened by the stormy violence around him, he is capable of great spiritual serenity because he is open to visionary experiences. Such experiences threaten both Father Virgilius and Brother Manus. Brother Aengus’ attunement to the energies of the natural and spiritual worlds makes him capable of delving into regions of the unconscious and articulating the ancient and often destructive memories found there. He alone knows why the eagle, at the play’s conclusion, is beating herself against the rocks in agony over the loss of her eaglets.

Brother Manus

Brother Manus, a naïve novice in his late teens or early twenties. He is full of fear and apprehension about everything that happens to them. Impatient and insecure, he demands that Father Virgilius explain the dangers they are undergoing in a rational way. He does not understand what is happening in either a religious or a naturalistic framework. The voices that he does hear, he immediately interprets as demonic.

The Eagle of Knock

The Eagle of Knock, a mythic figure from ancient Irish folklore. She is propelled into action by the persistent question that her eaglets put...

(The entire section is 805 words.)