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Topics for Further Study

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  • Friel's play takes place in Ireland in 1936. Learn more about the history of Ireland in the twentieth century. What are the major historical events of the era? What is the significance of this historical context to the concerns expressed in the play?
  • In Friel's play, Michael's Uncle Jack has just returned from twenty-five years in Uganda as a missionary priest. Learn more about the history of European missionary efforts in Africa during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. What were the conditions of the Christian missionary efforts in Africa? In what ways were missionaries significant to the history of colonial Africa?
  • The initial incident that sparks the changes in the lives of the characters in Friel's play is the acquisition of a wireless radio, which broadcasts a variety of musical features throughout the play. Learn more about the history of the radio and its effect on cultural history. When did radios first become popular in private homes? What was the content of early radio broadcasts? How has the role of the radio in mass culture changed over history?
  • Friel is considered the most important Irish playwright of his generation. Learn more about the history of Irish drama and theater. Who are some of the major Irish playwrights of the twentieth century? To what extent are social and political concerns central to the literary traditions of the Irish theater?

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