Violation: On Raftery’s Hill (2000) by Marina Carr

Druid/Royal Court Co-production, Premiere Directed by Garry Hynes
  • Miriam Haughton
Part of the Contemporary Performance InterActions book series (CPI)


On Raftery’s Hill is set in a kitchen on family farmland in rural Ireland but disrupts any nostalgia for cosy Irish homesteads that may be provoked on introduction to this setting. The Raftery home is a broken home and the audience act as witness to intergenerational abuse and despair that is played out in two acts. While the artistic sensibility of Carr’s dramaturgy is most often considered as influenced by Beckettian landscapes, in this play, living appears as a nightmare that will not end, resonating more with James Joyce’s infamous dictum on history in Ulysses through his haunted protagonist Stephen Dedalus. The sense of imprisonment is overpowering; there are animal carcasses rotting in the surrounding fields and the living human bodies appear to be rotting inside the house. Four generations of women remain in the house, from the grandmother Shalome to the great-grandaughter Sorrel, and possibly five generations if Sorrel is pregnant by the end of the play, as is hinted, ensuring the next generation will be as traumatised as this current one. Red Raftery, the father, both villain and victim, roams the fields torturing baby animals as he tortures his own young. Violence, torture, incest, abuse, humiliation, and despair: the list of actions and emotions that can exist under the umbrella terms of ‘violation’ and ‘trauma’ can go on. While the traumatic act of rape is committed by a single perpetrator in this play, the crime is protected by the complicit silence staged in the dramatic world, which could be argued as significantly traumatic as the act of violation, though this analysis does not intend to provide any crude hierarchy of suffering. This violation alongside the general familial and cultural complicity speaks to the histories of patriarchal social structures that continue to normalise and safeguard domestic abuse that are part of the wider dramatic reality, and indeed, clearly resonant with contemporary society.


Print Sources

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miriam Haughton
    • 1
  1. 1.National University of IrelandGalwayIreland

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