Term of Award

Spring 2009

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)


Department of Literature and Philosophy

Committee Chair

Howard Keeley

Committee Member 1

Joe Pellegrino

Committee Member 2

Mary Villeponteaux


This essay is a look at a little known Irish poet, William Allingham, who invokes the fairy as a vehicle for a political change in Ireland. It offers a close reading of a few of his poems as well as historically approaches the use of fairies in the popular culture of the nineteenth century. In Chapter I, I use an historical approach to discuss the biography of William Allingham and his place in Irish literature as a poet we have neglected. I also discuss a cultural study of the portrayal and use of the fairy in the nineteenth century. This chapter begins my essay as a foundation of Allingham's knowledge of the fairy from childhood. In Chapter II, I use a New Critical Approach to discuss the use of the fairy as a nationalist symbol in an amalgamation of Allingham's works. This chapter addresses Allingham's Diary as well as his poems Vivant! and Fireside Magic in order to discuss Allingham's religio-cultural anxieties. In Chapter III, I discuss both W.B. Yeats and William Allingham in reference to their use of the scary fairy as a means of working out their anxieties over the future of Ireland. I discuss Yeats's "The Stolen Child" as well as Allingham's The Fairies and The Ban-shee, A Ballad of Ancient Erin. To conclude, I look at the use of fairies in the popular culture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with an emphasis on Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series.

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