Themes and Meanings

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 492

Originally appearing in 1830 in The Dublin Literary Gazette as “Confessions of a Reformed Ribbonman,” the story was retitled “Wildgoose Lodge” in the second series of William Carleton’s Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry (1830-1833). Although Carleton was not actually present at the atrocity, in the last paragraph, he addresses the reader directly, saying that a few months later he saw the bodies of the Captain and all those actively involved in the massacre hanging from a gibbet near the scene of the horror. In a final footnote, he says, “This tale of terror is, unfortunately, too true.” He explains that the reason for the punishment was that shortly before the fatal night, the murdered family accused and convicted some of their fellow Ribbonmen of theft and assault. “Wildgoose Lodge” is therefore not a story of Irish sectarian conflict; both the murderers and the murdered family are Catholic. Carleton’s purpose in this story is not to make a political point but rather to horrify the reader by combining an account of actual events with the conventions of the nineteenth century tale of terror.

Illustration of PDF document

Download Wildgoose Lodge Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Carleton creates a thematically appropriate atmosphere surrounding the events by describing the day as gloomy and tempestuous. Moreover, the fact that the meeting in which the murders are planned takes place in a church and involves ceremonies of brotherhood is perceived to be bitterly ironic to the narrator. This ironic contrast between the church and the men is further emphasized when the narrator describes the devilish malignancy of the Ribbonmen captain as “demon-like,” “Satanic,” “supernatural,” and “savage.” When the Captain slams his fist down on the altar Bible to swear an oath, a sound of rushing wings fills the church. Although the sound of wings has a natural explanation—pigeons in the rafters frightened by the leader’s striking the Bible—the...

(The entire section contains 492 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this Wildgoose Lodge study guide. You'll get access to all of the Wildgoose Lodge content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Themes
  • Analysis
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial