The Lieutenant of Inishmore

The Place of Violence in Martin McDonagh's The Lieutenant of Inishmore, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri College

Although shocking, violence in the plays and films of Martin McDonagh is not out of place. Instead, McDonagh creates violent relationships, delicate balances of trauma, and vicarious enjoyment of the violence to construct a primitive and destructive world in which context violence belongs.

Firstly, while Padraic certainly believes in an extreme form of violent activism, McDonagh constantly undermines any justification his ideological violence could have. For example, as Padraic tortures James for selling drugs to young people, he shortly elaborates on his reasoning, stating the youth should instead be “out on the streets pegging bottles at coppers” (12). Although this statement gives a clear picture of Padraic’s beliefs, the humour in the comparison between James selling “marijuana to the students in the Tech” and Padraig demanding they instead be inciting violence on law enforcement deprives any righteousness that could be associated with ideological violence or the justification thereof (12). Moreover, McDonagh uses this initial scene to criticise Padraic’s priorities and the any claimed ideology that spurs his violence throughout the rest of the play.

Next, violence imparted in retaliation, unlike unjustified ideological or...

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