Philadelphia, Here I Come!

by Brian Friel

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 246

In Philadelphia, Here I Come!, the main character, Gareth, is divided into two different people (played by two different actors) and experiences a constant struggle between his private self and his public self. His public self is nice and polite, but deep down inside, his private self is fed up with nearly every person in his life. His father will not express any sort of emotion or even really acknowledge the fact that Gar is leaving Ireland for America, perhaps forever. The woman Gar loves wouldn't marry him because he couldn't offer her enough financial stability and he was too frightened to speak with her father about marrying her. His best friends turn out to be jerks, and his old schoolmaster is a drunk who keeps asking him for money.

In spite of all these reasons for leaving his home and everything he knows, Gar seems to spend the entire play hoping someone will ask him to stay. He thinks he may have a better life in America, and he fantasizes about it almost constantly, but he has many doubts. Although he may not show it on the surface, he doesn't want to leave his family behind, and he wants more than anything for someone—especially his father—to tell him that they don't want to be without him. At the end of the play, though, Gar is disappointed in this regard. Nothing happens to change his mind, and he continues to prepare for his trip.

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