Topics for Further Study

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Research the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. How does Behan represent these periods of Irish history in his play? What is his view of the contemporary situation in Ireland?

Compare and contrast the themes of The Hostage and The Quare Fellow. Why does Behan choose an impending execution as the focus point for two of his dramas?

Discuss the role of the song-and-dance routines in The Hostage, asking yourself either how the routines develop existing themes within the play, or how the routines contribute to the breaking down of the ‘‘fourth wall’’ between audience and actors.

Is The Hostage really an Absurdist play? If you think it is, make a case for your opinion. If you think it is not, offer another categorization of it, for instance as a political satire or a tragedy.

Focus upon the ending of The Hostage. How is the audience meant to interpret the ending, given the preceding tone and events?

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