This paper was originally written for Philip Wegner’s “Introduction to Irish Literature” course at the University of Florida. The essay seeks to examine the idea of a “Subject” — one who is entirely committed to a cause larger than themselves — and how key literary figures during the Irish Uprising contributed to the movement’s success. In particular, I examine Maud Gonne, Pádraic Pearse, and William Butler Yeats and their contributions as Subjects of the 20th c. Irish Uprising.
The existence of Subjects was imperative in the success of the Irish Uprising of the twentieth century. As it is Subjects who devote themselves wholly to a cause larger than themselves, it is also Subjects who are the “movers and shakers,” if you will, in a historical context. In particular, Subjects such as Maud Gonne MacBride, Padraic Pearse and William Butler Yeats have made their mark both in history and literature, providing us with texts that chronicle the creation of a subject and the difficulties experienced therein. What marks the difference between an individual and a Subject? What separates Maud Gonne from other women of her time, or Pádraic Pearse and William Yeats from other men of their time? How does one become a Subject and what is the importance of Subjects to the Uprising?