Whiteheaded Boy

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A: Lennox Robinson Pf: 1916, Dublin Pb: 1920 G: Com. in 3 acts S: Irish village, c.1915 C: 6m, 5fDenis Geoghegan is notionally studying medicine in Dublin, but spends his time having fun. It is therefore no surprise when he learns at home that he has once again failed his examinations. His long-suffering and indulgent parents decide reluctantly that he should go to Canada to seek his fortune there. Denis, unwilling to be cast out from the comfort of life in Ireland, retaliates by breaking off his engagement with Delia Duffy. She responds by serving a writ for breach of promise. Denis is saved by the resourceful Aunt Ellen, who schemes cleverly to save the family embarrassment: she agrees to marry Delia's widower father and makes over her shop to Denis, inviting Delia to manage it. Having being secured a comfortable existence once more, the ambition-less ‘whiteheaded boy’ Denis can relax back into domestic life with his loving family.

A: Lennox Robinson Pf: 1916, Dublin Pb: 1920 G: Com. in 3 acts S: Irish village, c.1915 C: 6m, 5f

This was Robinson's best and most successful play, the careful crafting of which acted as a model to a whole generation of Abbey playwrights. The title character, reminiscent of Fonvizin's The Minor, was intended by Robinson to reflect the idleness and complacency of many of his fellow Irishmen, allowing their nation to become a European backwater. Only the memorable Aunt Ellen possesses the drive and resourcefulness, Robinson implies, truly to fulfil Ireland's dream of independence.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

Reference entries

Lennox Robinson (1886—1958) playwright and theatre director

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