AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Redress as a Construct in Seamus Heaney's Poetry and Prose

by Ruth Elizabeth Macklin

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: redress; The Redress of Poetry; criticism; poetry; elsewhere; technique; Romantic; craft; dialect; poetry analysis; Oxford Lectures; ritual; funeral; vatic; Seamus Heaney; Gerard Manley Hopkins; Patrick Kavanagh
Record ID: 1300434
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5008


This thesis explores redress in Seamus Heaney’s poetry and prose. I argue that redress is a deeply considered intellectual construct that facilitates the process of writing and unwriting. Due to its dynamism and flexibility, redress is significant as a central construct throughout Heaney’s career. The first chapter considers how redress facilitates composition. In the early poetry, spatial metaphors indicate that redress functions as the creation of an alternative space or place in which to explore poetry. An examination of the rhetorical strategies and diction Heaney employs to describe this function indicates that his contemplation of the construct acts as an impetus for poetry throughout his career. In the second chapter I consider the deconstruction of the created space or place and the necessary unwriting of what has been written. I examine several corrective operations of redress, which I suggest enable Heaney to negotiate the complexities of his literary and linguistic inheritances early in his career. In the final chapter, I examine the restorative nature of redress by considering Heaney’s lifelong interest in ritual. An examination of his treatment of the Nationalist funeral and of several domestic rituals which feature in the later poetry indicates that redress restores specificities that ritual, through familiarity and regular performance, can occlude. Redress rescues specificities from ritual, restoring meaning and setting it to rights. It is my suggestion that in a parallel linguistic process, redress restores the sacramental value of language. Redress remains a central construct throughout Heaney’s career. By investigating some of the ways in which redress incites, facilitates and renews creativity, this thesis proposes new insights into Heaney’s exploration of the creative mind in dialogue with itself.