Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts

Elizabeth  Bowen

Lauren  Connolly 
Ireland and Britain During World War I

Elizabeth Bowen: Persevering Through Life's Difficulties

During the years of 1914-1918 British and Irish involvement in WWI caused conflict and chaos. There was fighting and arguing among people of the same nationality .The involvement of Britain in the war began when Britain sent Germany an ultimatum demanding that Germany stop military operations against Belgium. No offer of ending the military operations was received, so Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914. World War I had begun. For Ireland the war posed real problems; citizens didn’t know whether to fight alongside Britain or against Britain. To fight alongside Britain would mean to fight with the nation considered the oppressor. The Home Rule Bill had not yet become law, and Irish nationalists questioned whether they would be granted independence or not, and they questioned the wisdom of fighting on Britain’s side in the war. The largest group followed John Redmond, an Irish nationalist leader, and an MP for the Irish nationalist party, while the nationalists of Ireland stayed behind.

Born in Dublin in 1899, the novelist Elizabeth Bowen lived in Ireland until the age of seven, when her family moved to England. Bowen uses her personal experiences to communicate her messages throughout her novels. Bowen’s novels reflect her belief that although individuals encounter difficulty along life’s journey they are able to grow personally stronger. Bowen’s characters suffer a loss of beauty as a result of aging and the lack of a parent or mentor to influence personal development. Despite these difficulties each character carries on not only surviving but growing from the experience. Both The Little Girls and The House in Paris depict the journey to finding self. The characters are initially confused by their life circumstances but through the course of the novel come to a better understanding of themselves. Elizabeth Bowen encourages her readers to persevere through life’s difficulties because human nature is stronger than life’s hardships.

Major Works Consulted:

Bowen, Elizabeth. The House in Paris. New York: Random, 2002.
---. The Little Girls. New York: Random, 1963.
Cronin, Mike. A History of Ireland. New York, New York: Palgrave, 2001.
Thane, Pat. Cassell’s Companion to Twentieth Century Britain. London: Cassell, 2001.
Photo Credit: Bowen, Elizabeth. A World of Love. New York: Random, 1955