'The Last September is about the ambivalence of the Anglo-Irish as Ireland was about to become an independent state.' Discuss.

Essay by hughoconnorUniversity, Bachelor's December 2005

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In this paper I will attempt to define why the Anglo-Irish appeared to have such ambivalence towards the changes going on in the country around them. I will try to show that they did this out of fear; out of fear of themselves and of breaking away from the past, a past in which they perceived that their only security could come from. I will do this by using Bowen's own analogy of the Big-House, a very real feature of the Irish landscape even to this day, and by an exploration of her own attitudes as they relate so closely to Lois, the protagonist of the novel.


The work of Elizabeth Bowen is not so much a critique of the problems of the Anglo-Irish at the beginning of the twentieth century, but is rather an embodiment of them. Bowen herself grew up in this community and her novel the last September is imbued, through her own personality, with these attitudes and persona's.

The protagonist of the novel, Lois Farquar, is similar to the characteristics Bowen saw in herself; her isolation, the inescapable truth of not belonging and the wish to escape is akin to Bowen's experience in growing up in Cork at the time of the troubles. The house is the key to the paradox and contradictions by which they spent their last days. Lois is not a direct descendent of the house, as an orphaned niece she is even further marginalized from everyone. The house is a place that offers her and her adopted family protection, security and status but in this period these three assets suddenly revert to become their liabilities. The Anglo-Irish are neither totally Irish or English, and they are therefore mistrusted by the both sides of the divide and their old sensibilities come...