ISSN : 2288-5412(Online)
DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.14354/yjk.2007.27.53
Yeats’s Identity Discourse: Tragic Heroism and Culture in the Anglo-Irish Tradition
Yeats constructed the identity that is based on the dichotomy between the fewAnglo-Irish and the Irish people, by which he attributes culture to the one, andnature to the other. Here culture is supposed to be superior to nature and that senseof superiority rests on the ability to culturalize nature. Yeats connected the culturewith breeding which means being cultivated by discipline and education. In writing,it was through his poetics of mask, what he called “the sense of style,” that hecould overcome his rage and hate to the mass and futhermore transform them tothe higher virtues such as reason, manners and beauty.
As the poems dealing with the Anglo-Irish big house and the Thoor Ballyleeshow, in their tradition what they have inherited is a heroic spirit of overcoming and transforming the adversity each generation has faced. Some critics have assertedYeats shows de-mystifying recognition when he reveals his ancestors' illicit andunjust violence to the native Irish in the past. But we have to note that it finallyleads to justifying his Anglo-Irish violence, for he thought it had been transformedby their overcoming spirit and efforts into order and culture whereas the violence ofthe Irish mass resulted into disorder and chaos.
David Lloyd's opinion needs to be reconsidered in this regard. He praisedYeats's de-mystifying insights in some later poems and asserted, borrowing Paul deMan's terms, his writing is allegorical rather than symbolic. But in the poems hecited Yeats seems to be more interested in heroicizing and idealizing his Anglo-Irishidentity and tradition. Yeats's Anglo-Irish identity should be understood as anresponse to the changed reality and is formed by his peculiar writing orrepresentation.