"Romantic Ireland's dead and gone" : social criticism and Yeats's later plays.
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Rawl, Michael S.
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In the tumultuous years following the Easter Rising of 1916, the Irish author W.B. Yeats consistently turned to drama as a primary medium through which he could reflect on the state of contemporary Irish culture. This study examines two dramatic works from Yeats’s later period—The Dreaming of the Bones (1917) and Purgatory (1938)— along with the poem “Easter, 1916” and the essay-pamphlet On the Boiler in order to explore the development of some of his social and cultural views. It is argued that this development is largely entropic: in the immediate aftermath of the Rising, Yeats articulated a hope for the imaginative and spiritual renewal of Irish culture in The Dreaming of the Bones. It is suggested that by the end of his life, Yeats came increasingly to doubt the possibility of Irish cultural renewal. This pessimism is embodied in the late play Purgatory.