Philadelphia, Here I Come!

by Brian Friel

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 203

Becoming Whole

Perhaps the most important theme in Brian Friel's play Philadelphia, Here I Come! relates to sense of self. The main character, Gareth (Gar for short), is played by two different actors when this play is performed, because Gar sees himself separated into two different entities: Gar Public and Gar Private. The former is the Gar that he shows to the world and the one who normally interacts with his father. Gar Private is arguably the "real" Gar, as this Gar is composed of Gar's true feelings and thoughts. This is an important part of the play, because Gar, like the rest of us, has to find a way to reconcile these two separate parts of himself in order to become whole.

Coming of Age

Another theme in the play is growing up, or coming of age."Gar decides to leave his home in Ireland and move to America, and he must deal with the loss and guilt he feels for leaving his family behind. He is becoming an adult and making his own decisions, and this is not always an easy process, as we see when he repeatedly attempts to make some sort of meaningful connection with his closed-off father before he leaves.

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