University of St.

Thomas (Center for Irish Studies)

"The Plain Round Tale of Faithful Thady": "Castle Rackrent" as Slave Narrative Author(s): Kate Cochran Reviewed work(s): Source: New Hibernia Review / Iris Éireannach Nua, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Winter, 2001), pp. 57-72 Published by: University of St. Thomas (Center for Irish Studies) Stable URL: . Accessed: 30/05/2012 16:49
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( .? State Maria Edgeworth. diss. Edgeworth as various critics have emerges as neither an apologist nor an abolitionist. rather. University of New York at Stony Brook.D. 5:4 WINTER/GEIMHREADH. 57-72 NEW HIBERNIA REVIEW/lRIS ??REANNACH NUA. the appropriation of power and authority. 1987). theWorks of As quoted in Elsa Fredriksen Emenheiser. There must have been amoment what needed of clearly deliberate artistic decision inwhich she realised that to be said must be said through one of the submerged people. the symbolism of the Big House. and its narrative structure of episodic anecdotes that utilizes memory. 200l). shemediates the narrative with an editorial presence. Edith Somerville and Violet Martin. as a reformist of a system that she understands to be pro deemed her but. p. little of it accomplishes both the textual and contextual analysis that Castle Rackrent deserves. a terrifying vision of the results of colonial misrule.. its use of the framing device of the outside editor. As John Cronin writes of Cas dition. Edge worth has created a typical slave narrator who recounts a history of oppression which is ultimately mediated by an outside editor. In this way. While tleRackrent. 34. is amagnificently realised slave. and she treatment of the English-ruled tenant system in Ireland. "WhatMaria Edgeworth has given us. "Study that House: The Big House in andWilliam Butler Yeats" (Ph."1 Critics of Maria textual elements of the narrative indicate its likeness to typical its presentation of a conflicted slave narrator. i. description. The threemain slave narratives: Thinking of Castle Rackrent as an Irish slave narrative helps illuminate Edge worth's motivations aswriter and historian: she records Thady's tale as instruc tion for an English readership justas American editors of slave narratives did for their northern readership. colonial hegemony? ments?gender or contextual readings by placing Edgeworth in the Anglo-Irish history and tra such criticism usually in some way examines the main theme of the text. and didacticism. she establishes complex characterizations of both the peasantry and the Ascen advocates a revised dancy class in the figures of Thady and Sir Condy.. in Thady Quirk.Kate Cochran "ThePlain Round Tale of Faithful Thady ': Castle Rackrent as Slave Narrative Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent tend to focus on textual ele issues. Explor ing Thady's "plain round tale" as a slave narrative in content and form sheds new light on the work both textually and contextually.

Castle Rackrent as Slave Narrative the fundamental injustice of foundly flawed and unfair. Although Rushdy does not mention whether or not Castle Rackrenfs publica Uncle Tonis Cabin sad William Wells William texts. exemplified by Elizabeth Harden. Bell. simple charm and unconscious made possible by the artistic device ironic presentation of'transparency'?the of external fact in such amanner that the reader may see the truth underneath the external statement and draw his own conclusions"5 The second is held by James Newcomer. 3972). A. Bernard Bell may coined this term in order to classify Margaret Walker's Jubilee (1966) and Ernest Miss Jane Pittman (1971) within the larger context Gaines's The Autobiography of of African-American Realism. the neo-slave narratives' as a historical phenomenon major unifying feature is that they represent slavery "3 cultural meaning and enduring social consequences that has lasting Rushdy notes that neoslave narratives begin in the 1850swith Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1853) but also include The Confessions ofNat Turner (1967) many modern Styron's and Charles R. The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition (Arnherst: The University of Mass to Afrkan American Literature* eds. ultimately more effective in conveying slaves themselves. There are two main critical opinions of Thady. Elizabeth Harden. Bernard W. and even more fitting when the narrator has been so often analyzed as Thady Quirk. without being create slave narratives in the genre of the "neoslave" narrative.2 In The Oxford Companion toAfrican American Literature. "Transparent Thady Quirk" in Family Chronicles: Man? Edgtworth? Castle Rackrent. 285-94* 3.533 4. and Tradier Harris achusetts . The first. 91* ' . like Brown's Clotel tion influenced any of these subsequent texts. authors Contemporary critics argue that. and therefore her reservations about the Ascendancy. Co?l?n Owens (Dublin: Wolfhound Press. This essay. who doubts Thady's simplicity and loyalty to the Rackrents: 2. ed. imih P. Edgeworth pinpoints the often comic voice of one of its oppressed. Maria Edgeworth A Literary Biography (Oxford: Clarendon Press. WE?iam L (New York: Oxford University Press. A. how ever. render the Ascendancy through more powerfully authentic and less directly confronta ing the narrative both tional to its English readership than itmight be in another form. 1987?. subjects. as it did Scott's Waverley (1814) and Turgenev's Russian tales. trusts Thady's naive pose as genuine. It seems fitting to begin a comparison of Castle Rackrent and slave narratives with an analysis of the narrator. or ancestral presences. Marilyn Butler." -s?: Press.will focus on linking Castle Rackrent with traditional slave narratives. 5. Ashraf H. 1987).4 it is important to understand that a narrative written by a nonslave can be classified as a neoslave narrative. pp. Frances Smith Foster.'. Rushdy defines the genre: "Having fictional slave char acters as narrators. Rushdy. 1-2. p. invoking the technique of transparency to account for his simplicity: "For Thady's great appeal lies in his naivete. The Oxford Companion Andrews. Johnson's Oxherding Tale (1982) and Middle Passage (1990). pp. Ashraf H.

Thady seems to unite himself with both Sir Condy and with Jason. reader that he would 6. James Newcomer. Written Press. 8. p. However."7 Edwards falls prey to the same fault which plagues other critics. of Castle Rackrent" Quarterly. 7. pride. bitterness. Harriet Jacobs begins her narrative by begging her reader's indulgence for her own lack of edu cation and literary decorum: "Iwish Iwere more competent to the task I have undertaken.Castle Rackrent as Slave Narrative "If he is simple. For instance. generally love of money causes him to ally himself with Jason. 123-26. if he is loyal to the family. Such a narrative posture would ultimately become so endearing to the feel sympathy for both the individual narrator as well as for the abolitionist campaign. 79. entirely omitting the or vengeance which the slave narrator phenomena of rage. Duane . (Cambridge. pp. . owing to their desire to provide an acceptably authentic text and to appeal to their readership. t. p. Harvard 59 / '". Maria Child Edwards. he is neither com pletely loyal nor completely unreflective old man whose disloyal. Harriet A Jacobs. 71 (1972). he has the native shrewdness that may sometimes be the com panion of simplicity. Instead. Slave narrators. like that of Harriet Jacobs. 1987). it is apparent that the slave narrator is creating a self which rep resents only those aspects appealing to a northern reader. 1. but neither his motivations for so doing nor his intent in telling his story are adequately addressed in any of the current criticism. in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself (1861). he is a sentimental. The contradiction in Thady's character can be accounted if one considers him as a slave narrator."6 Both of these views underestimate Thady's character and motivations. "The Disingenuous "The Narrator Thady Quirk. Incidents University in the Life of a Slave Girl. But I trust my readers will excuse deficiencies in consideration of circumstances. that loyalty ismade somewhat more comfortable by the perquisites that have accompanied his service.*' in Family Chronicles: Maria South Atlantic Edgewartfts Castle Rackrent."8 This humble posture helped slave narrators?and tors"?to present a narrative that recounted slavery's atrocities without their "edi becom of the slave in ing confrontational and which underscored the individuality terms of courage and learning without ignoring the continuing horror of slav ery. ed. Even Duane Edwards's attempt to reconcile these two critical positions falls short: tcThady is neither completely disingenuous nor completely calculating. typically adopted a narrative stance that marked them as sympathetic characters.who for some unexplained reason abandons him. Thady's seem assertions?a for the Rackrents coupled with his ingly contradictory respect repeated claiming of Jason as "my son"?as well as his position as voluntary nar rator indicate the need for amore detailed analysis of his character.. byHerself'[1861]. that of underestimating Thady. in many slave narratives.

Thady appeals good. Thady's passivity also likens him to a traditional slave narrator. ed. George Watson thus: (CR 56-57). Thady replies. (Oxford: Oxford University Press. Thady to SirCondy. Castle Rackrent hereafter cited [1800]. and belongs have done so these two hundred years and upwards.Castle Rackrent ?is Slave Narrative would naturally feel as a result of his experiences in slavery. 11. "Not at all (says I). 10. of the slave narrator's purpose account for the of Thady's character? It is easy to discern a covert message in as James Newcomer does in "The Disingenuous Thady's narration. In Thady's case."10 Thady's of loyal slaves in the likened to the mythology if one is elevated through relationship with an empowered ancestry. for abolition. Thady may in fact feel an alliance with Jason. but ton he throughout Edgeworth's remains a passive observer. that Thady admits that he has seen Condy's But does this contradiction contradictions and Jason's private correspondence. perhaps that would bring a moral plane. and that Thady allies himself with Jason by using the pronoun "us" in referring to a bid on the sale of Rackrent property. who were slave-children. ?o . Jacobs writes: not expect to be happy.. then one denies the very fact of slavery. Thady son" or "my Quirk. for the reclaimed self of the slave." Newcomer points out that Thady calls Jason his son?"my son Jason"?more than thirty times. In any case. pp. though."9 Like Jacobs. 78-81. resentment for Anglo-Irish rule over Irish land and a sense of satisfaction or justice when his son takes over the Rackrent estate. but I live under him.Maria Edgeworth. We must be "[W]e. and particular. 1995)> pp-56~57. Family Chronicles. 18. Old South. parenthetically. could us contentment. Thady's attitude seems linkedmore to plantation romance than to slave narrative. identifying himself with the When asked by a stranger if he denies the reality of his own slavery. whether the slavery is accepted or not.11Newcomer's argument seems as limited as those presented by critics who accept Thady's loyalty at face value* and also flawed in its implication that Thady takes an active role in bringing about the ruin of the Rackrents. The role of the slave narrator is defined through his telling the story of oppression. calculating. not by 9Jacobs. the slave narrator serves a twofold purpose: he explicitly encourages his readership to abolish slavery through his moral per denial is understandable when sona and he implicitly vents some outrage at his suffering of slavery's indigni ties. morality consists of to his readers on Rackrent family. me and mine. p. In this way. practical manipulator who uses his close relationship with Sir Condy to help Jason destroy the Rackrent family. Newcomer's aim in this essay is to prove that Thady is a shrewd. not a in the battle between Sir Condy participant and Jason. The twofold purpose is both general.

one must appraise Thady's claim of friendship as his motivation. descriptions. I think itmy duty to say a few words. for telling the story: "Having out of friendship for the family. she was of the formulating new ulations of the conflict12 The root of Thady's contradictions of character. Thady's opening lines. economic autonomy like Thady would not have had much hope of attaining would be trapped into a kind of domesticity resembling slavery 61 . Such isThady's situation. indeed." Edgeworth's irony and. E Foster. The slave nar rator is thus presented as a survivor. praised be Heaven! I and mine have lived rent free time out of mind. For lacobs. His position as slave narrator mandates that he shapes the story and that his experiences within the oppression dictate the story. Kathryn J. upon whose estate. The Penguin Press. Modern Ireland 1600-1972 (London. her powerlessness lies both in her slavery and her feminin ity: she is always in danger of sexual assault by her master but hides in an attic to avoid his advances. p. in the first place. but also as a victim of slavery. See R.Kirkpatrick. he mirrors come And. "AContextual Reading ofMaria Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent and Belin* da" (Ph.D. as such. The slave narrative is a text of inference?of details. First. Ireland suggests that for most tenants liv ter's description of tenancy on the estates of Ascendancy aside? tenants ing "rent-free" would be like sharecropping without the''sharing.' Fos 13. Edgeworth herself. countered by his decision Voluntarily undertaken to publish theMemoirs of the Rackrent family. aswell as of Edgeworth's moti vations. 91. the narrator's assumed posture of supplication to his readership presents him as powerless over both his own past as well as over a future aboli tion of slavery. 1988). who wrote Castle Rackrent over while she waited land of the out Ireland. 59-78.j New York University 1990). in contrast with the content of the text following. voluntarily undertaken to publish theMemoirs of the Rack indicate his covert motivation rent Family. slave narratives do not explicitly empower the narrator. of course. pp. Second.Castle Rackrent as Slave Narrative his acting against such oppression.5In this activity. he is made powerless in his remembered position as slave and in his recounting of that position. Kathryn Kirkpatrick points out that Thady's apparent passivity is. In this way. and inci dents told without significant editorial commentary to bring the reader to a seemingly solitary point of outraged sympathy for the narrator. it is critical to understand that living rent-free of slavery in the context of Anglo-Irish tenant farming. nor even of directly objecting to the oppres sion. concerning was a kind myself" (CR 7).13 Thady therefore prais es Heaven for the many years he and his family have served the Rackrents as slaves. lies in Thady's position as the voluntary narrator of his story. artic of the Protestant-Catholic through the very activity the right dispute of telling the tale. in this way. but the focus on his passive observations largely absents him from the action of the narrative. When his "friendship" is considered against the manifold unflattering tales he 12. diss.

that is. slavery impressed upon the slave narrator a contradictory mindset. creates and mediates as editor Thady's character. Many critics reconcile the apparent contradiction between Thady's stated intentions and his subsequent unflattering depictions of the Rackrents by decid is too simple to ing that he is simply not a very good storyteller. nar rative perspective. that I could think and speak in itwithout effort. of course. and the dull Sir Condy." his narra tive does share the same kind of contradictions as Douglass's narrative* That is to say.. John Lan gan's] dialect struck me. Hence. and narrative voice. so friendly. the wild Sir Kit. itmakes sense that a self-representation in narrative form would read as a series of con tradictions since the slave's self encompasses those contradictions. " : . [my steward. Thady may not in fact appreciate the irony of his story. 1987).' . story. and Ibecame so acquainted with it. at a special conjuncture of historical and of styles of telling a life. "Writing as Power in the Slave Narrative Quarterly Review. it is clear from the very first lines he speaks that his words and his intent do not correspond. of the Early RepublkT Michigan . But that sort of appreciate the irony inherent in either his tale notes contradiction lies at the heart of the slave narrative. disenfranchised and empowered. The slave narrator is of two worlds: colonial culture and native culture. 26. and perception of self which necessarily affected the narra tive of his life.' 62 '. Donald Wesling. Therefore. as well as his deprecatory descriptions of their wives. Thady or in his telling..471. the role of slave narrator becomes more complex as she.14 While Thady's mind may not be accurately portrayed as "capacious. great contradictions and dissent in one and considered. the litigious SirMurtagh.As the greatest of the narratives of slavery and escape. is not a diminishment of aesthetic and moral In such a reading. from the author's time. that contradictoriness force. Third. he seemed to stand beside i4. making clear to the reader that he is both the center and the shaper of his story. "The only character drawn from life in 'CastleRackrent' is Thady himself.. it is also the most contradictory. a member of the Ascendancy. enslaved and freed.. but that irony reflects the contra dictions inherent in any slave narrative.Castle Rackrent as Slave Narrative tells about the inebriated Sir Patrick. although Thady s words indicate moti vations based in affection. Donald Wesling about Frederick Douglass's Narrative that The Narrative is a great book artistically capacious because shaped mind it carries along. Biographers likeMarilyn Butler often cite Edgeworth's memory of writing Castk Rackrent. the struggle of consensus forces. and his character. although Thady's focus during the story Thady seems not almost wholly on the four Rackrents. he begins by making a few concentrates statements about himself. In Edgeworth's case. but a lure to understanding.3 (Summer.

and a sense of benevolent responsibility from the corruption of the tenancy system. or that she modify Castle Rackrent with a glossary of terms. usually recommending that she create ladylike works like Letters for Literary Ladies (1795). While Edgeworth's father may have had honorable intentions in influencing his was the only text she creat daughter's literary pursuits. Although Langan acted as the catalyst for Castle Rackrent. that to say that Edgeworth remained separate from the teller of the tale. it has been noted that he acted as an editor and advisor to Edgeworth's writing. Richard Lovell Edgeworth."16 Certainly. Edgeworth's independent choice to write and publish Castle Rackrent may thus be seen as amirror of Thady's decision. Her easy assimilation class. her relationship with her father. Maria Edgeworth became the narrator of the story by assuming his voice and his persona as she remembered of Langan's posture emphasizes Edgeworth's own dis in the Ascendancy. 19. and it stands as her most complex and subversive work.Castle Rackrent as Slave Narrative me and dictate and Iwrote as fast asmy pen could go. he voted against it due to the proposed methods 15. and imagined them. Belinda (1807). Marilyn Butler. If Edgeworth is understood to be a disen empowerment franchised figure in her own class. . . 5. behavior agreed with her father that the Enlightenment could save Ireland guided by reason. Although Richard Edgeworth believed that Ireland would benefit from the Act of Union. her creation of Thady's voice becomes less problematic. 16. John Langan so inspired her she wrote as if she were not herself but him. 63 . Although Edgeworth was a member of the Anglo-Irish Ascen dancy. and Tales of a Fash ionableLife (1809). While Edgeworth her explicitly tells a comic story of exaggerated characters in the Big House. Kirkpatrick> p. Edgeworth conflicted position of a subordinate member of a ruling class wrote from the within a colonized country. Edgeworth nally optimistic political views about the governance tenets of education. Her work contains elements of a radical critique of the colonialist enterprise. of Thady's voice and his implicit critique of colonialism stems assumption from her own disempowered position with her father and in the Anglo-Irish gentry It is generally accepted that Edgeworth and her father shared the same ratio of Ireland. Castle Rackrent (1800) ed without first consulting her father. the fact that she was female marginalized her within the context of her of the Anglo-Irish gentry. "The Sources p. however. that is. reflected this marginalizatiom While Edgeworth and her father shared political views. Itwould be foolish. Kirkpatrick notes: "As a woman by which it would be established of Castle Rackrent? and adminis and Composition Family Chronicles: Maria BdgewortttsCastleRackrent."15Edgeworth's memory seems to suggest a telling of her own story.

19Therefore. If Thady is unaware of the irony of his tale. through the Anglo-Irish a dutiful generosity to their ten and manifesting lishing nonsectarian schools While Maria Edgeworth remained steadfast in these political beliefs. it is in the of the tale that both Thady and Edgeworth reveal the depth of voluntary telling their dissatisfaction with the Ascendancy..17 as amarginalized member of the Ascendancy again reflects irony of her position back on Thady's situation. Edgeworth has Thady using an often-quaint conversational vernacular to tell his story.3 (1994). Edgeworth too may be unaware of the irony inherent in her role as both an advocate of English rule in Ireland and as the author. but she does have him speak in English rather than in Irish. James M. likeThady. the patriarchal Ascendancy. Mary Criticism. Mary Jean Gorbett proposes that to perpet the Rackrentwomen. both Richard Edgeworth and Maria Edgeworth believed that estab Ireland's salvation lay in English intervention. However. unable to face the realities of managing an Irish estate asMaria Edgeworth herself had been able to do." adding a layer of gendered irony to her tale. Cahalan. the ants. Both Thady and Edgeworth purportedly supported the by virtue of his devotion to. [the] asinine [Rackrent} wives. pp. but is a version of her own. 397 (Boston: Tw?yne? 1988)? pp* 19*20.. like Thady. both Thady and Edgeworth explicitly support their own disempowerment. Again. also like Thady. This deployment of a strategy of supple mentary empathyworks simultaneously to exempt the English from response" 17 John Cronin... Edgeworth.the Rackrent fam Anglo-Irish Ascendancy?Thady tenant system could a ily and Edgeworth because of her hope that reformed was disempowered in bring a rational society to Ireland. 17-18.. 19. she seemed towant uate English rule in Ireland. this voice is not other than.. The tenor of their voices is therefore the same. 1768-1849* Family Chronicles: Mark Edgemrths Castle Rack rent. are both agents ofma subject to patriarchal colonial rule. "Another Tale to Tell.18 James Cahalan aptly points out that Edgeworth "attacked feminine stereotypes: in Castle Rackrent she lambasted. who locked themselves in their rooms or ran off quickly back to England. but.Castle Rackrent as Slave Narrative tered. "Maria Edgeworth. Daniel Hack explains this distinction: [W]hile Edgeworth does team to speak inThady's voice. 18. Edgeworth. [one of] the central recurring ironies of the text [is] that those who are doubly positioned as powerful and powerless fail to recognize their implication in the systems that subject them.. just as Edgeworth herself was . The Irish Novel: A Critica History H . narrates her story just as a disempowered place in colonialist does his?from Thady patriarchy. Postcoloaial Theory and the Case of Gustk Rtukrent? 36. Jean Corbett.

the prior involvement of the Eng lishwould seem to facilitate their ability to turn the existing structures to their advantage.. inCastle Rackrent Maria Edgeworth provides the first requirement of a slave narrative: a first-person. Thus. Castle Rackrent plays upon essential message that only an oppressed fig ticator.. disenfranchised narrator who speaks in the master's language. In this way.. Some critics have assumed that the editor's voice reflects more accurately. Edgeworth's position is again complicated by her own status not only as slave narrator. 29. and that Given the likeness of Edge Thady's voice ismerely the voice of John Langan. Edgeworth's position as amember of the Ascendancy. In Castle Rackrent. ?* . but also as outside editor.20 Hack shows that Thady's use of the English language demonstrates a colonial ist rationalization about English rule.2 (1996). abolitionist. Daniel Hack. from the editor. The second major characteristic of Castle Rackrent that bears likeness to a slave narrative is the frame imposed by the editor. 156V "Inter^Nationalisrn: Cas?e Rackrent and Anglo?Irish Union " Novel. one who narrates a story describing a past position of enslavement in an unfair system of authority. 20. or editor* attesting to the validity of the slave narrator's authorship and the accuracy of the narrator's story.. Hack's commentary indicates that Thady's use of English dialect not only reflects that Edgeworth and Thady share the tenor of the story. Typically. the second major textual require ment of a slave narrator.' ' . At the same time. and such authenticating documents as with Jacobs's narrative. just as the family steward's use of a dialect of English paved theway for Edgeworth's absorption of his voice. ' . and who presents the twofold agenda of explicitly appealing to his readership using a nonconfrontational persona and of implicitly expressing outrage at his own past victimization. but more interesting is his notion of the empathetic voice. reemphasizing Edgeworth's ure can know and tell the truth about the ruling class's oppression. but also includes a closing disclaimer as well as editorial inter ferences with Thady's narration in the form of footnotes and directions to the the notion of editor as authen glossary. albeit ironically. the tension between Thady and the editor indicates a tension within Edgeworth's consciousness between her loyal ty to her own class and her sympathy for the Irish peasantry. but the vehicle as well?language. That is. in a slave narrative the authenticating frame included a letter from a friend. fron as bills of sale and correspon tispieces. Other elements of the frame could include prefaces.Castle Rackrent as Slave Narrative bility for the status quo in Ireland and to demonstrate their present and future suitability to improve it. Castle Rackrent uses only the primary letter dence. However.

If. In such commentary as her depiction of the wake. 1984). how does it in England is ameeting further her goal to depict the unfairness of the Ascendancy? Perhaps because she presents such a sharp contrast between Thady's endearing persona and the indifferent editor persona.Castle Rackrent as Slave Narrative worth and Thady as disenfranchised narrators in the system of patriarchal colo nialism. Thus. Tom Dunne describes Edgeworth's editor as amirror of her own didacticism: "The dominant voice is always her own. ': '. again empha The editor's condescending tone renders Thady even more sympathetic by comparison. which may hereafter be valuable to a judicious antiquary? {CR 45} and distracting presence in the that he does not understand nor narrative. it is apparent that Edgeworth is playing upon her readership's pre revelers and hypocrites: "Awake as existing prejudices against the Irish drunken Ireland. Consider. in fact. it is a nocturnal avowedly for merriment?in the dead. 3.Not only do the editor's elevated tone and wording render the edi~ Here. Edgeworth's editorial presence sizes her ironic critique of colonialism. indicating appreciate the message of Thady's tale. . "Maria Edgeworth and the Colonial Mind. but in the majority of slave narratives. the footnote that documents the "Irish mark": It was the custom in Ireland for those who could not write. For Jncidents in the Life of a Slave GirU L. m ."21Dunne's evaluation of Edgeworth's narrative voice seemingly misses the point of her ironic tone. Maria Child provides a very brief introduction specifically defending Jacobs's authorship and moral fiber as well as assuming responsibil ity for the indelicacy of the explicit details included in the narrative. but in meeting avowedly for the purpose of watching and bewailing for gossiping and debauchery" (CR 81).?-The Editor insertshere a facsimile of an Irish mark. intent on explaining and drawing lessons from. the editor establishes an unwelcome 21. O'tknmeU'Lecture. for instance. the conduct and opinion of her char acters. She closes Jacobs's narrative with character references for Jacobs from prominent north ern women. In contrast. the editor's presence is contained in the framing of the tale rather than peppered throughout. as was formerly the practice of our English mon archs. to make a cross to stand for their signature." The Twenty-Sixth 27 June 1984 (Cork: University College Cork. p. Edgeworth's editor continually interrupts Thady's narration. Edgeworth's fictive editor not only includes an authen ticating frame as well as footnotes that punctuate Thady*s narration with sophisticated wording and sometimes faulty references in order to communi cate themost simple of explanations. for example. such a reading iswanting. Tom Dunne. Edgeworth presents reality such judgmental commentary from the editor as an ironic device.

Edgeworth may not have been aware of the full extent of that irony."24 22. 93.iUnwersityofTulsa. Condy's English counterparts experience pity for SirCondy's unfortu nate loss of power and fear that such an inversion of power could unseat them. Dunne." (Ph. Lesley Thompson for the disempowered: explored how such a dialectic reflects meaning-making nature of the slave narrative. and it also illuminates the specific quality of the Scott has enfranchised voice typified by the slave narrator. aswell. TomDunne describes Edgeworth's opinion of Thady's language as "equivocat ing. Kirkpatrick. p. in the standard element of the authenticating framing device imposed by an outside editor. the editor seems less amused. with its author^narrator." In this the position of editor and narrator.i995)>P*i83. "The Role of the Engaging Narrator 24. Scott. By the end of the text. ' 6? . its engag "[T]he dialogic and real readers evoked the real ing narrator.diss." of which Dunne observes that both acquired such a relationship to language because of their oppression: "They developed these unfortunate linguistic skills "from necessity of defence' against those who had arbitrary power over them.Kirkpatrick notes: "AsThady and his family move from the margins to the center of the tale. This dialectical frame established by Edgeworth again invokes the standard tem dis plate of the slave narrative. even defen sive. the editor underscores the irony of Edgeworth's own posi to both sides of the. exculpatory. In this way. the voice of the notes begins to disassociate itself from any alliancewith them. Both aspects of that irony support the comparison of Castle Rackrent to a slave narrative. and supplicatory" and a "perplexing and provoking mixture of "22 more Of interest isEdgeworth's truth and fiction glancing description of the similarity between the Irish peasantry and "West Indian Negroes. but they also help to draw attention to Thady's vernacular style. At the beginning of Cas tleRackrent. Lesley Thompson American Slave Narratives. implied readers. its fictive readers.conflict of colonial rule tion as Anglo-Irish?sympathetic but belonging wholly to neither. That editorial position is a dynamic one.Castle Rackrent as Slave Narrative tor ridiculous. including way. ironizes both aspects of her hyphenated nationality?the "Anglo" through her editor's voice and the "Irish" through Thady's voice.D. In she adopting the dual voice of oppressor and oppressed. to further critique the colonialist enterprise. struggle [s] tomake meaning. Edgeworth manipulates theiruses of language. 19. in Four Nineteenth-Century p. Edgeworth's editor seems tomanifest a kind of amused interest in Thady's story. context in which all discourse."23 Certainly Edgeworth's editor's distance discloses the read ership's probable reaction. however. as the upstart Jason Quirk assumes a position of power. but particularly ity of the sociolinguistic The slave narrative structure oppressed voices. editor and Thady. 23.

With Sir Murtagh's O'Shau^im-Rackrents. but I never knew it till six years of happy childhood had passed away?26In'contrast* Thady recounts the inci dents of his life by recounting the incidents of the Rackrent family's lives. These episodes episodes serve as evidence for his (with Sir Murtagh) or laudatory (with Sir derogatory Kit and Sir Condy) opinions of the three succeeding Rackrent landlords. pp* 15-16* 26. based in loosely collected chronologi cal episodes rather than a predetermined plot. The third major point of comparison between Castle Rackrent and typical slave narratives is its narrative structure. Jacobs. Thady's narration of the "disparate" elements that Scott outlines above. Thady becomes a proper eyewitness and therefore includes in which he has direct contact with the Rackrents.Scott. p. of digressive material in order to to theme. important the contrasting events in one's founda Scott sets and dis life from a of: recounting?articulating distinct thematic focus. Of course. At one time or another during the narrative? Thady accomplishes each of the typical duties of the slave narrator* Most slave narrators begin their stories with the traditional ttI am bornw for mula.Castle Rackrent as Slave Narrative to both Thady's and Edgeworth's position as marginalized again hearkens back voices. ?? . exposing?revealing the social atrocities rendered upon the victim. remembering?attempting manipulate one's memories to fit the form the slave narrative. 5. 25. appealing? directly addressing and contending with one's readers. The manifold includes all duties of slave narrator that Scott notes above may also help to explain the lack of cohesion of Thady's narrative. ascendance. : . such "disparate factors" would in fact be best served by employing an episodic narrative structure. begin ning that history with stories from his great-grandfather to start his tale with the first landowner of the Sir Patrick. apostrophizing?structuring focus attention on the main one's narrative and with lastly. Edgeworth was not consciously work ing to fit Thady's story into the preestablished template of the slave narrative. or melds. The rationale for such a structure with slave narratives was that the slave was presenting a narrative of his life? from his birth as slave or capture into enslavement to his ultimate freedom?and that any imposition of a plot would detract from the autobiographical tion of his narrative and therefore from the appearance of authenticity out the usual duties of the slave narrator in telling his story: It is the voice parate factors of the ex-slave which combines. and thatmarginalization makes them uniquely qualified to critique the colonialist hegemony. but Castle Rackrent clearly resembles such a narrative. Harriet Jacobs notes: "Iwas born a slave.2* Certainly.

Castle Rackrent as Slave Narrative Thady exposes the Rackrents' appalling flaws and failures seemingly with out being conscious of their fall import. one of the hallmarks of Thady's character. when Thady tells the story of Sir Kit leaving his estate in the hands of amiddleman who the mismanages property. often modifying his own story. Thady again diverts the blame to others. so seemingly digressive anecdotes is it is in both the style and content of his digressions that the reader learns the most about Thady. moral Thady 69 . was worth on how the reader understands twenty of Miss Isabella" (CR 43). Thady is accomplished at apostrophizing?it seems. Although Thady neither employs the pronoun "you" in addressing the editor. For example. When Sir Condy assumes the Rackrent title already overburdened with debt. remembering. nor toMiss Isabella either. to his mind. each detail that Thady elects to incorporate into his story has a direct effect his opinion of the four Rackrents. Thady continuous ly appeals to his audience. nor invokes the "dear reader" used in Harriet Jacobs's slave narrative. Although both Sir Kit's and Sir Condy's pitiful mismanagement of the property debases the lives and livelihood of their tenant farmers and of Thady himself. of Jason. Thady "laid it all to the fault of the agent" rather than appreciating Sir Kit's responsibility for the management of his own land and tenants (CR-ai). the slave narrative template. Thady breaks slightly with the usual approach. For instance. north girlhood. modest. Thady's story is based entirely in memory. it seems. Given that Thady speaks his narrative to his "Editor" he remains very cog nizant of his audience throughout the story.. marriage. like that of the slave narrator. his little Judy M'Quirk. that his narrative is little more than a collection of digressive material Howev er. Above all. then. at times. In the case of the final duty of the slave narrator. Thady's seemingly irrelevant description of Sir no Condy's reluctance to attend a play attests to Condy's likeability: "[H]e had not he to stage plays. however. and throughout the text he seems to be making excuses for the Rackrent heirs. based upon the editor's reactions. abolitionist readership than not: Christian. and of Thady himself. Thady seems to identify more with the legacy of the Rackrent ancestry rather than with his own life among them. his vernacular indicates that he is shaping his narrative to appeal to his editor. In Inci Thady is not concerned with maintaining a Slave Girl Jacobs organizes and edits her memories of her dentin theUfe of so that she appears more like her white. Thady describes the tiff between Isabella and This layering of Condy to preface a description of Condy's affection for Judy. In this way. as it came liking out over a bowl of whiskey punch at home. Unlike the slave narrator. including his own son. perhaps working off of the editor's reactions to better illustrate his story. and travels also ern..

it seems clear from biographical accounts that Edgeworth considered Cosife Rackrent an historical work. M. graphic metalanguages 'scenes1 and to specific witness 'sketches' 'incidents. He appears to honor their baser qualities. both in structure and in rhetorical style. but the legacy of the Rackrents while exposing all of viously. 28. J. 70 . then it is important to decide whether the story was intended as history or as propaganda for its While the publication of slave narratives tended to embrace the readership. The rhetoric that Edgeworth uses for Thady's narration also reflects the slave narratives and directly relates to the similarity between Castle Rackrent and notes that typical slave narrative structure. Dunne goes on to note that "Inher preface to Castle Rackrent. Thady returns to the conflicted position of slave the act of telling his own narrator?both conciliatory and condemnatory?in story. the form of the narrative.' linked This [serves] to describe slave narrative structure in an episodic feature seems answerable truth. Again. but it also indicates his graphic memory about even the most insignificant of details and thereforemarks his text as unquestionably authentic. Edgeworth gave this tradition a new 27 W. claiming for fic tional narratives the authority and authenticity of historical records?28 Cer tainly. espe cially given the eighteenth-century tradition of fiction. ed. Mitchell. 201. the Image. Memory. Katherine CfBrien O'Keeffe (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. 1994}. p. Tom Dunne writes that the literary period: "[C]onfused fiction and history deliberately. This vivid description attests to Thady's authority as a narrator since he is a firsthand witness. links Castle Rackrent to the slave narrative. Thus.' the 'unvarnished The common link between the anecdotes of Thady's story is his use of vivid When Sir Condy gains the chair. the inclusion of authenticating documents and the editorial framing device enhanced the text's likeness to an historical document. Artifacts and the Production of Meaning: Tlie Rage. If Castle Rackrent may be equated with the slave narrative. and he bare headed and it raining as hard as it could pour {CR 56). have died in the streets for joywhen 1 seedmy poor master chaired. Thady notes: "I thought ? should description. ana the Body. Mitchell [Description is the dominant rhetorical feature-[The] al. Margaret J. and Slavery?" Cultural "Narrative. Ezell.Castle Rackrent as Slave Narrative his mission is contradictory.'27 dominance of visu as assemblages of that confines both temporality to the desire for'eye authenticity. as has been argued pre shapes his memory. Dunne.T. p. tension between history and propaganda. 3.

but it also pro vides the focal point around which the text revolves. Edgeworth and Thady are again linked as disen landowners?as franchised readership. As Marilyn Butler documents.'" . individual destiny as an allegory of the national destiny. tellers of aminority tale too often misunderstood by itsmajority best characterizes Castle Rackrenfs critical recep That misunderstanding tion. dis enfranchised narrator. she ironizes the narrative pos ture of "faithful Thady/' playing upon the dual meaning of faithful as devoted and as accurate. That perspective also relates back to both Edgeworth's and Thady's position as marginalized characters."30 Current critics. said what what?I pleased with Castle Rack Rent?he know something now of my Irish subjects. 467 30. The irony that defines Castle Rackrent as a subversively historical text also serves as its unifying theme and directly reflects on the underlying mission of the text?to present an examination of themachinations of power and author ity in the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy. Butler."29 Just as Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl portrays the enslavement of Harriet Jacobs as representative of the national can cer of slavery. In this way. further complicating the slave narrative template and her own 29. The tension between the Quirks and the Rackrents can be considered Edgeworth's prediction for the future of Ireland's system of landowning..Wesling. Richard Lovell Edgeworth wrote to his father-in-law Beaufort: "We hear from good authority that the king was much rubbed his hands &. while claiming that the recollections of an illiterate Irish peasant were more genuine and important as a historical record. Fredric Jameson has identified the symbology between individual stories and national stories: "ThirdWorld texts always show private. . In this way. In so doing.Castle Rackrent as Slave Narrative twist. she created a text which has themain qualities required by the standard slave narrative: a first-person." The irony of the subjective historicism of Edgeworth's preface further likens her work to a slave narrative. by attacking conventional histories as unreliable and pretentious. As Donald Wesling points out. so Thady's story indicates Edgeworth's fears about Anglo-Irish well as her own and Thady's marginalization. p. and an in order to commu episodic structure which links often unrelated anecdotes nicate the experience of oppression. . as well. tend to misunderstand Thady's narrative: Maria Edgeworth implemented an innova tive method of storytelling to adequately communicate her ideas about the need to reform colonialism in Ireland. While Jameson specifically cites Chinese and African stories as models for individual-national allegories.'.. a framed story mediated by an outside editor. 359. p. he intends to illustrate how the majority reader may misunderstand aminority voice. : 7i ':. .

htm. who has added extensive ethnographic and scientific notes. as well as new and some in color.' her class. the University of St. The Galway publishing detailed drawings and photographs. of Our the material readers may for the four cov more Hibernia discover nis or Muinis. and a passionate understanding desire tomake the colonial power and the colonial ruling class reappraise their attitudes and policies?31 It is because Edgeworth was amarginalized member remarkable of the Ascendancy round tale? c-w. Cl?dach: Cover We close this fifth volume of New Hibernia Review by presenting the last of four illustrations from works of Irish natural history in the varied holdings of the in the Department of Special Collections in O'Shaughnessy Celtic Collection Frey Library Center at our home campus. Tom Dunne writes: acceptance of the system "If [Edge involved of the mentality of its victims. The vividly purple lobster shown on this issue's cover comes from a plate in (1938) by S?amus Mac con Iomaire (Mac an Iomaire). about the rich resources of the Celtic Collection Internet: http://www. An English language version of Cladai Chonmara has been made by Padraic de Bhaldraithe. Thomas going to the 72 .lib. Thomas?and Frey Library especially its direc We and other mar Describing theWest. p. UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI that she was able to assume Thady's voice and tell his "plain 31. Cladaigh Chonamara in idiomatic Connemara Irish the fishes.Castle Rackrent as Slave Narrative position worth] in the Anglo-Irish is a colonist who Ascendancy 'accepts. Dunne. A paperback edition. Cladaigh Chonamara was in 1938. which sadly omitted the colorful dating plates that highlighted the original.Mac an Iomaire s extensive reportage on the folk published scattered through the Con ways and practices of the fishing communities nemara Gaeltacht begins with a warm meditation on his home island of M?i itime flora and fauna of the beaches of in Dublin The first edition contains numerous photographs and drawings from the 1920s. thank the Department of Special Collections of the O'Shaughnessy Center of the University of St. Ann ers of Kenne?for the 2001 volume its generous of New contribution Review.stthomas. house Tir Eolas issued this elegantly produced book under the title The Shores of Connemara in homage to the Connemara Environmental Education Centre. 21. was issued in 1985 by An Gum. shellfish. at St. Thomas.