Author Information

Zachariah Milauskas


Brendan Behan’s The Quare Fellow looks not only at how a prison population reacts to an execution, but also how people throughout history respond to inhumanity—whether it be injustice or dehumanization. Behan struggles with whether or not prisons are able to reform prisoners. In a darkly comic way, Behan questions the justice of prisons and executions, and yet the characters in the play do not seem to know how to fix the judicial system of 1940s Ireland. In this play, Behan is concerned with showing how the prison system is built and how it will never help anyone: prisons supposedly are meant to change humans, but the system has failed, and it seems that the way it currently is can never be changed. Even though Behan was imprisoned for six years under the British system for being involved with the Irish Republican Army’s terrorist activities, he gives no clear answers to the audience. Instead, he emphasizes dark humor, the humanity and understanding of prisoners, and the inhumanity of some characters, such as the Hangman, creating a play that is remarkable in showing a system that has failed.

Note on the Author

Zachariah G. Milauskas is a senior pursuing English and History Majors and an Asian Studies Minor. Zachariah began this essay for an Irish Literature class, but was mentored by Dr. Benjamin D. Carson in order to present it at the 2008 Second Annual Bridgewater-Stonehill English Conference.

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