Dismantling Stereotypes: The Pursuit of an Ideal

We’re all familiar with Irish stereotypes. There are commonly known ones that have a negative impact on the people as a whole: being drunk, having a lot of children, and poverty. These negative traits have been established through history as a mode of oppression. As a group, we have looked into how these stereotypes influence the view on an ideal or authentic Ireland. How do the negatives affect nationality or the view of famous Irish people.  Examples of how Irish people were treated can be seen in various political cartoons:

In this image by Thomas Nast, we see the stereotypical and awful view of an Irish man with a face like an ape. This showcases the negative perspective on the Irish — to this artist, they are primitive. He sits atop a barrel of gunpowder carelessly, bottle of rum in hand.

Here is a similar, more telling cartoon. Notice the aggression in the man’s face, the pose, and the many children surrounding him. Spot the woman fading in the corner, feeding another child. The detail that she is in the background tending to the young ones alone emphasizes the man’s uncaring and wild nature.

As can be seen, the Irish have been depicted with overwhelmingly negative stereotypes. As a way to counter these derogatory labels, various writers have responded by pursuing an ideal Ireland. Throughout this web-page, we aim to analyze the romanticization of the landscape.

What makes this pursuit of the ideal so complicated is the way it constantly contradicts itself: while the Irish people are sensitive to diversity, something pure ties them together.

The focus of this web-page is on the idea of how stereotypes function and how they influence what is said to be ideal or authentic. There are many ways to dissect this and we have broken down several ways to analyze the negative or positive aspects to what these stereotypes do:



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