Cathleen ni Houlihan

Cathleen ni Houlihan Metaphors and Similes

"Like a poor scholar" (Simile)

At one point, Peter and Bridget discuss their youngest son's future. Bridget says, "We will be well able to give him learning, and not to send him trampling the country like a poor scholar that lives on charity." She wants to give him a proper education and imagines an unfavorable future for him in which she compares him to a poor scholar.

"Too many strangers in the house" (Metaphor)

When Bridget asks the Old Woman why she is wandering the country, the Old Woman replies by saying, "Too many strangers." While this sounds like a literal statement at first, an unusual declaration that there are strangers living in her house, it is actually a metaphor used to describe the intrusion of British colonizers. The "house" is Ireland, and the "strangers" stand in for "colonial rule."

"My four beautiful green fields" (Metaphor)

Moments later, the family asks for more details and the Old Woman tells them that her "four beautiful green fields" were taken from her. The "four green fields" refer to the four provinces of Ireland. The fields are not only literal green fields of Ireland, but representations of Irish land and independence.

"All the lovers" (Metaphor)

A few moments later, the Old Woman refers to all of her lovers and the men that have brought her their love, but specifies, "I never set out the bed for any." In this, we see that the love is a metaphorical one, rather than a romantic or sexual one. The love she refers to is the love of country and devotion to Irish nationalism.