Dancing at Lughnasa, Kate Mundy: A character study

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Kate Mundy: A character study
-Kate, at 40, is the oldest of the Mundy sisters, and is the only one who earns an income outside of the home
-Kate works as a school teacher within the village of Ballybeg, so is the character who interacts with the locale the most, and is the most aware of any gossip, particularly surrounding her family and their reputation
-as the eldest, she has assumed the role of protector, breadwinner and authoritative figure within the household
-This role is particularly prominent in her pronouncements throughout the play, however Friel constructs a hidden complexity to her character that permeates the entire play at multiple occasions
-these complexities are evident in the earlier sequences of Act 1.
-Even before Kate makes an appearance on stage, her disapproval is being mocked – albeit affectionately- by her sisters
-‘do you want to make a pagan of yourself?!’ also establishes the ongoing theme of the conflict between paganism and Catholicism.
-significantly, in a play much concerned with Pagan ritual, the opposition between Kate and Catholicism and aforementioned rituals are detailed very early on
-if Kate does stand as the authoritative figure within the play, this does not go unchallenged, especially by Agnes
-this stern image is not the image we are greeted with when we first encounter Kate, however, as her face lights up with pleasure when she sees boy Michael
- Kate talks to the boy in a sympathetic fashion, speaking warmly of his to his mother, who admits herself that he has been spoiled by her sisters
-whatever Kate may feel about her sister having a child out of wedlock, this does not sour her relationship with the boy
-outside of the house, Kate maintains a dignified outward appearance at the mockery of her relationship – or lack thereof, with Austin Morgan by Rose, before she displays a flash of anger @ its continuance
-with Agnes suggestion that they attend the Lughnasa dance, even Kate is tempted to do the unthinkable, maybe we’re mad, are we mad?! Before the bizarre and abandoned dance of Rose causes mass panic and she abandons the idea. The silence after the argument – after

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