Countess Cathleen

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A play in blank verse by Yeats, published 1892. It is based on the story of Countess Kathleen O'Shea told in Yeats's compilation Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888). The scene is laid ‘in Ireland in old times’ at a period of famine. The people sell their souls to the demons for food. The countess does all she can to relieve their needs, till the demons steal her wealth. Finally she sells her own soul to the demons for a great sum, sacrificing her hope of salvation for the people. But at the end she is forgiven, for her intention was good. The play was first performed in Dublin in 1899, and marked the beginning of the Irish Revival in the theatre.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

W. B. Yeats (1865—1939) poet