John Bull's Other Island
We are first acquainted with the character of “Father” Keegan in the Act Two. Initially, we are quite oblivions to the fact that it is indeed he that is having a rather lively conversation with a grasshopper, for at first, he is introduced solely as “the man”. Later on, as Patsy Farrell approaches him, we learn of his true identity as well as the fact that he is no longer considered to be a priest, since he has been defrocked on the account of his alleged insanity. Instead of making an effort to dispute the charges, Keegan gladly consents to his present situation and feels no disdain whatsoever neither for being labeled as a madmen, nor for being forced to relinquish his calling. In reality, it seems to me that this self-proclaimed poor madman is essentially hiding behind such a classification, for it allows him certain freedom in addressing people bluntly and speaking his mind.
As the play unravels, we learn of the circumstances that lead to “Father” Keegan being officially replaced by a curvy Father Dempsey. It seems Keegan made an inexcusable mistake of confessing a black man on his death bed and made himself a victim of the man’s spell as well as of the superstitious nature of his parish. Consequently, even though still revered by his community, he was no longer fit to continue at his previous position, for a madman under a spell surely cannot grasp any sense of wisdom, truth or reality. And yet, Keegan seems to be the only character in the play endowed with such qualities, for he is the only one that can see clearly through both Tom Broadbent and Laurence Doyle.
“Father” Keegan is somewhat of a prophet in his mysterious and spiritual ways, with the uncanny insight into the sufferings of the world, which he infers to be and equates to living hell. In him, there is a touch of both a genius and a saint. Due to his Catholic background, Keegan sees himself as neither an English man nor an Irish...