Philadelphia, Here I Come! Revision


Genre: Flashback Technique

  • The past is idealised through flashbacks.
  • Gar’s mind spans over 25 years.
  • Gar is forced to review significant events that influenced him to the day before he does so.
  • Flashbacks re-enacted on-stage, shifting between past and present.
  • Gar deals with events in a selective way. He dwells on events that had a strong influence. 

Flashback examples:

  • Interview with Senator Doogan
  • Visit of Aunt Lizzy
  • Boat trip with father


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Genre: Stream of Consciousness

  • Method of using past events to influence present reality
  • Gar's internal monologue enables the audience to confront his private thoughts.
  • Occasionally sentences are reduced to fragments.
    • eg: "quote"
  • Adds to the realism of the play
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Genre: Comedy

  • Gar releases from his disappointment by acting in an exaggerated and talkative way
  • His foolery seems unreal and childish, shown by his inappropriate comments and clownish behaviour
  • Gar's mood swings between anger, cheerfulness, frustration and abandon
  • His foolery, which releases frustration, borders on slapstick.
  • The boys embody the foolery and role-playing carried out by Private, with their loud talk and bawdy conversation about their exploits 
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Genre: Public Gar and Private Gar

  • The exchanges between Public and Private reveal past experiences, present feelings and future fantasies
  • Not a conventional play as plot developments occurs in Gar's mind
  • Physical action is secondary to the conflict and turmoil with his inner thoughts
  • The conflict between the two Gars mirrors the central conflict of the play
  • The conflict is centred on the emotional loyalty Gar has to his past and his desire to create an identity beyond that
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Genre: Reference to Burke's French Revolution

  • Burke was politically conservative 
  • He had an idealistic view on the French monarchy
  • Wrote his reflections to discredit the radical politics of the French revolution
  • Idealised the past and condemned the present
  • Gar has an idealised memory of mother, which acts as a protective mechanism against the reality of his pedantic and unemotional father
  • He has a deep attachment to the past, shown through his emotions and fantasies
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Social Setting


  • Set in Ballybeg in 1960s rural Donegal 
  • Place of narrow horizons and limited possibilities
  • The community is small, movement is limited and few possibilities to broaden horizons
  • The lifestyle is set and predictable

Female Characters:

  • Subject to limitations of this type of society
  • Kate, Lizzy, Madge and Marie (Gar's mother) are the main female characters
  • Controlled by society's conventions
    • Kate must marry into the right social circles
    • Even though she's gone to America, Lizzy stills feels a failure as she couldn't have children
    • Madge is the housekeeper but more of a mother figure to Gar


  • Shown through Canon. Clear he's inept and ineffective
  • Gar jokes about this when he comes one evening to play cards with SB
    • "Sure Canon what interest have you in money? Sure as long as you get to Tenerife for five weeks every winter, what interest have you in money?"

Education System:

  • Shown through Master Boyle. He's an alcoholic and failed school teacher
  • He's having many confrontations with school, priest and teacher


  • Shown through Senator Doogan. He's a social snob, concerned with keeping the right social connections. Gives an insight to the privileged ruling class of rural Ireland in the 1960s
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Themes and Issues: Relationships - Gar and father

  • Unable to communicate, the main reason why he wants to emigrate. Neither have come to terms with the past 
  • Madge is the mediator between the two. Through her, we learn how Gar's mother died and SB has feelings even though he can't articulate them, "It must have been near daybreak when he got to sleep last night."
  • Gar and his father are "as like as two peas" and escaping to America won't solve his problems "and when he’s the age of the boss, he’ll turn out just the same. And although I won’t be here to see it, you’ll find he’s learned nothin’ in between time"
  • They're similar, both afraid to show emotion and embarrassed in each others company. 
  • Both afraid to face their own limitations and acknowledge them
  • Yearn to be loved and understood but their attempt at this backfires
  • When Gar talks to father about a boat trip he fondly remembers he recalls SB being “happy” and bursting into song. SB ignores this and argues about the colour of the boat, “I mind a brown one”, and remembers a different song
  • Main tragedy is that the conclusion shows no difference in the situation. Gar leaves without realising problems in relationship
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Themes and Issues: Relationships - Gar and Madge

  • The mother figure who understands his real needs
  • Gar has learned everything about his mother through her
  • She is sorry he's leaving and is concerned for his welfare.
    • eg: she sacrifices her needs so he can get a cup of tea on the plane
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Themes and Issues: Relationships - Gar and Kate

  • Kate is the daughter of Senator Doogan
  • Was in a relationship with Gar when they were younger
  • Her father didn't consider Gar's social status enough for Kate so arranged marriage to doctor
  • Gar hasn't come to terms with emotional failure here which causes him grief
  • He repeatably repeats scenes from the past with him and Kate which humours the Senator
  • This incident left a "deep scar on the aul skitter of a soul"
  • When Kate says goodbye to Gar he is very aggressive. It's clear he's hiding his wounded feelings behind this aggression
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Themes and Issues: Personal Failure


  • The root of his problems is his inability to face failures in his life
  • Decides to move to gain freedom from his current quality of life
  • He has not matured enough to function in this society
  • He blames everything but himself

Master Boyle:

  • A failure in his parish. An alcoholic and failed poet, doesn't confront himself fully but instead escapes through drink and fantasies of becoming "head of education in a reputable university"

The Boys:

  • They are personal failures. Unable to deal with limitations of life in Ballybeg and hide behind bluster and vulgarities


  • Shown to be inefficient and inept. Gar jokes about his failure when he visits SB, "because you could translate all this loneliness, this groping, this dreadful buffoonery into Christian terms that will make life bearable for us all. And yet you don’t say a word. Why Canon? Why arid Canon? Prudence be damned!"
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Themes and Issues: Escapist Fantasy

  • At the root is a deep-seated dissatisfaction within every character and their environment
  • Gar hasn't got an identity in Ballybeg. He's pulled to the future and drawn back to a sentimental past which he wants to escape by moving to America, the solution to all his problems
  • Ironically learn that his escape will just intensify his problems
  • He condemns Ballybeg for the things which will solve his problems, love, affection, identity and warmth. He's no better at the end of the play. Escape, as Madge tells us, will solve nothing.
  • The boys indulge in escapist fantasy by monologuing about themselves and their imagined exploits. Their life is more bearable when they imagine fantasies. They use bravado and loud talk to hide their inadequacies. 
  • Master Boyle compensates for failure by dreaming up a "big post" at a "reputable university" in Boston. Ignores alcoholism by imagining another world and unrealistic achievements. 
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