By Richard H Taylor

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Extra resources for A Reader’s Guide to the Plays of W. B. Yeats

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Yeats, 1966, pp. 192-3) The image of Christ hanging upon the black cross, a symbol of yet another kind of love, quickly follows, implying that the love of material ease and sexuality is brought together in the binding love of god which in turn is sharply contrasted with the subjective anarchy and spontaneity of fairyland. 194-5, 200 and 210), which is repeated at the child's entrance, at the revelation of her true nature, and again at Mary's transition from one mode of existence to another, also functions as an image of that happy supernatural life.

She renounces the symbolic union of opposites and fruition of a universal pattern in order to complete her own character and exert her influence for good in the material world. Aleel implies that Aengus is perhaps angelical and attempts to merge the old heroic world of the passionate, proud heart with the new dispensation, but the countess will have none of it. She dedicates her heart to the Christian heaven from which she expects salvation for herself and her people. Aleel is the only character in the play who speaks of the old gods of pre-Christian Ireland and he is fully associated with their subjective, heroic and creative attributes.

The short, intense poetic lines and the images of dancing and love reinforce the contrast between the sorrows of the material-rational world and the joys of the heroic-imaginative alternative which he advances at the beginning of scene three. The song in scene four is a response to Cathleen's rejection of his love and leads to lamentation over her sacrifice in the final scene. Its theme is obvious from the opening line, 'Impetuous heart, be still, be still' (p. 129), and like the very brief scene in which it features, the song seems to be born of a structural necessity rather than an organic or narrative one.

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