‘We Were Treated Very Badly, Treated Like Slaves’: A Critical Metaphor Analysis of the Accounts of the Magdalene Laundries Victims

  • Miguel-Ángel Benítez-Castro
  • Encarnación Hidalgo-Tenorio
Chapter
Part of the New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature book series (NDIIAL)

Abstract

In the last decade, the Magdalene Laundries scandal has revealed endemic problems of Irish society. From 1765 to 1996, these asylums run by female religious congregations became prisons for prostitutes, single mothers, abused girls or young ladies allegedly prone to seduction. Forced into these institutions, those women had to work under pseudo-slave conditions. Drawing on the materials compiled by Justice for Magdalenes, we examine their verbalised experience from a critical discourse analysis angle. We thus aim to identify the ideologies that the metaphorical patterns used by the victims reflect, as they awaken to the trauma of their past. This analysis can help us to understand their construal of redemption and remorse, the blame attributed to the Catholic Church, their conception of womanhood, and their portrayal of cruelty and violence.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to express our warmest thanks to Katherine O’Donnell, not only for granting access to the materials analysed in this paper, but especially for having first shared her enthusiasm and commitment with us. Our gratitude goes as well to Mick O’Donnell for his support with some technical difficulties we encountered during the corpus annotation process.

Works Cited

  1. Ahrens, Kathleen, ed. Politics, Gender and Conceptual Metaphors. London & New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.Google Scholar
  2. Andrews, Valerie. “Crimes Against the Unmarried Mother in Canada Post WWII: The Collective Consciousness of Society.” Adoption Circles (2011): 1–6. http://works.bepress.com/valerie_andrews/5/, accessed 30 December 2016.
  3. Anon. “Ireland.” The Economist, 24 May 2001. http://www.economist.com/node/636425, accessed 30 December 2016.
  4. Armour, Phillip. “Zeppelins and Jet Planes: A Metaphor for Modern Software Projects.” Communication of the ACM 44, no. 10 (2001): 1–13.Google Scholar
  5. Bartley, Paula. Prostitution: Prevention and Reform in England, 1860–1914. London & New York: Routledge, 2000.Google Scholar
  6. Black, Max. Models and Metaphors. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1962.Google Scholar
  7. ———. “More About Metaphor.” In Metaphor and Thought. Ed. Andrew Ortony, 19–43. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.Google Scholar
  8. Burke Brogan, Patricia. Eclipsed. Knockeven: Salmon Drama, 1994.Google Scholar
  9. ———. Stained Glass at Samhain. Knockeven: Salmon Poetry, 2003.Google Scholar
  10. Cameron, Lynne. “Identifying and Describing Metaphor in Spoken Discourse Data.” In Researching and Applying Metaphor, eds. Lynne Cameron and Graham Low, 105–32. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.Google Scholar
  11. Campbell, Joseph, and David Kudler. The Myths of Light: Eastern Metaphors of the Eternal Novate. Los Angeles: New World Library, 2003.Google Scholar
  12. Cazeaux, Clive. Metaphor and Continental Philosophy: From Kant to Derrida. New York: Routledge, 2007.Google Scholar
  13. Charteris-Black, Jonathan. Corpus Approach to Critical Metaphor Analysis. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.Google Scholar
  14. ———. Politicians and Rhetoric: The Persuasive Power of Metaphor. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.Google Scholar
  15. Chilton, Paul. Security Metaphor: Cold War Discourse from Containment to Common House. New York: Peter Lang, 1996.Google Scholar
  16. Chilton, Paul, and Mikhail Ilyin. “Metaphor in Political Discourse: The Case of the ‘Common European House.’” Discourse and Society 4, no. 1 (1993): 7–31.Google Scholar
  17. Cismas, Ioanna. “Introductory Note to Committee on the Rights of the Child Concluding Observations on the Second Periodic Report of the Holy See.” American Society of International Law 53, no. 3 (2014): 580–96.Google Scholar
  18. Cullingford, Elizabeth Butler. “‘Our Nuns Are Not a Nation’: Politicizing the Convent in Irish Literature and Film.” Éire-Ireland 41, no. 1–2 (2006): 9–39.Google Scholar
  19. Davidson, Donald. Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.Google Scholar
  20. Deegan, Gordon, and Conall Ó Fátharta. “€23m in Redress Paid to Magdalene Laundry Survivors.” Irish Examiner, 29 April 2016. http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/23m-in-redress-paid-to-magdalene-laundry-survivors-395667.html, accessed 30 April 2016.
  21. Evans, Lisa, and Jacqueline Pierpoint. “Framing the Magdalen: Sentimental Narratives and Impression Management in Charity Annual Reporting.” Accounting and Business Research 45, no. 6–7 (2015): 661–90.Google Scholar
  22. Finnegan, Frances. Do Penance or Perish: A Study of Magdalen Asylums in Ireland. Piltown: Congrave, 2001.Google Scholar
  23. Frears, Stephen Arthur. Dir. Philomena, 2013.Google Scholar
  24. Gallagher, Páraic. “Report: Clear Evidence of State Involvement in Magdalene Laundries.” Newstalk.com, 5 February 2013. http://www.newstalk.com/Report:-Clear-evidence-of-State-involvement-in-Magdalene-Laundries, accessed 30 April 2016.
  25. Goatly, Andrew. The Language of Metaphors. London & New York: Routledge, 1997.Google Scholar
  26. Goodman, Paul. “The 8 Main Reasons for War.” Owlcation, 22 November 2016. https://owlcation.com/social-sciences/The-Main-Reasons-For-War, accessed 30 November 2016.
  27. Government of Ireland, Oireachtas. “Residential Institutions Redress Act,” 2002. http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2002/act/13/enacted/en/html, accessed 13 December 2015.
  28. Hart, Christopher. “Critical Discourse Analysis and Metaphor: Toward a Theoretical Framework.” Critical Discourse Studies 5, no. 2 (2008): 91–106.Google Scholar
  29. Hochschild, Adam. To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914–1918. Boston & New York: Mariner Books, Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.Google Scholar
  30. Howe, Nicholas. “Metaphor in Contemporary American Political Discourse.” Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 3, no. 2 (1988): 87–104.Google Scholar
  31. Hughes, Peter E. A Sociological Study of the Good Shepherd Convent Refuges for the Social Reformation and Christian Conversion of Prostitutes and Convicted Women in Nineteenth Century Britain. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Brunel University, 1985.Google Scholar
  32. Humphries, Steve. Sex in a Cold Climate, 1998. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWKuGqtWDow, accessed 1 March 2015.
  33. Irish Human Rights Commission. “Assessment of the Human Rights Issues Arising in Relation to the ‘Magdalen Laundries.’” 2010. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/reports/2010_11_IHRC_Assessment_Magdalene_Laundries.pdf, accessed 30 June 2016.
  34. Irish Urban Explorations. “High Park Convent, Dublin – January 2009.” 31 December 2012. https://irishurbanexplorations.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/high-park-convent-dublin-january-2009/, accessed 30 September 2015.
  35. Johnson, Mark. The Body in the Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.Google Scholar
  36. Johnson, Eric J. “War in the Media. Metaphors, Ideology and the Formation of Language Policy.” Bilingual Research Journal 29, no. 3 (2005): 621–40.Google Scholar
  37. Kay, Edwina. “Containment of ‘Wayward’ Females: The Buildings of Abbotsford Convent, Victoria.” Archaeology in Oceania 50 (2015): 153–61.Google Scholar
  38. Kennedy, Victor. “Metaphors in the News.” Metaphor and Symbol 15, no. 4 (2000): 209–11.Google Scholar
  39. Killian, Sheila. “‘For Lack of Accountability’: The Logic of the Price in Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries.” Accounting, Organizations and Society 43 (2015): 17–32.Google Scholar
  40. Kittay, Eva Feder. Metaphor: Its Cognitive Force and Linguistic Structure. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.Google Scholar
  41. Kövecses, Zoltán. Metaphor: A Practical Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.Google Scholar
  42. ———. “Introduction: Cultural Variation in Metaphor.” European Journal of English Studies 8, no. 3 (2004): 263–74.Google Scholar
  43. Kronfeld, Chana. “Novel and Conventional Metaphors: A Matter of Methodology.” Poetics Today 2, no. 1b (1980–1981): 13–24.Google Scholar
  44. Lakoff, George. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1987.Google Scholar
  45. Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980a.Google Scholar
  46. ———. “Conceptual Metaphor in Everyday Language.” The Journal of Philosophy 72, no. 8 (1980b): 453–86.Google Scholar
  47. Lakoff, George, and Mark Turner. More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.Google Scholar
  48. Leech, Geoffrey N. A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry. London: Longman, 1969.Google Scholar
  49. Levin, Samuel R. The Semantics of Metaphor. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  50. Leyton-Brown, Kevin, et al. “Boosting as a Metaphor for an Algorithm Design.” Lectures Notes in Computer Science 2833, 2003: 899–903.Google Scholar
  51. Luddy, Maria. Prostitution and Irish Society, 1800–1940. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.Google Scholar
  52. MacAlinden, Anne-Marie. “An Inconvenient Truth: Barriers to Truth Recovery in the Aftermath of Institutional Child Abuse in Ireland.” Legal Studies 33, no. 2 (2013): 189–214.Google Scholar
  53. MacCormac, Earl R. A Cognitive Theory of Metaphor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.Google Scholar
  54. Mackenzie, J. Lachlan. “Metaphor in Contemporary Semantics.” Dutch Quarterly Review 15 (1985): 52–72.Google Scholar
  55. Makarushka, Irena S.M. “The Magdalene Sisters: How to Solve the Problem of ‘Bad’ Girls.” Journal of Religion and Film 16, no. 2 (2012): 1–42.Google Scholar
  56. McAleese, Martin. “Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee to Establish the Facts of State Involvement with the Magdalen Laundries.” 2013. http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/MagdalenRpt2013, accessed 15 September 2015.
  57. McCarthy, Rebecca Lea. Origins of the Magdalene Laundries: An Analytical History. Jefferson, North Carolina & London: McFarland, 2010.Google Scholar
  58. McCormick, Leanne. “Sinister Sisters? The Portrayal of Ireland’s Magdalene Asylums in Popular Culture.” Cultural and Social History 2, no. 3 (2005): 373–79.Google Scholar
  59. McDonald, Brian. “My Nightmare Life in an Orphanage.” Irish Independent, 27 January 1999. http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/my-nightmare-life-in-an-orphanage-26163672.html, accessed 15 September 2015.
  60. McGarry, Patsy. “Áras an Uachtaráin Among Users of Magdalene Laundry.” Irish Times, 22 June 2011. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/%C3%A1ras-an-uachtar%C3%A1in-among-users-of-magdalene-laundry-1.602530, accessed 25 January 2015.
  61. Mio, Jeffery Scott. “Metaphor, Politics and Persuasion.” In Metaphor: Implications and Applications, eds. Jeffery Scott Mio and Albert N. Katz, 127–45. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1996.Google Scholar
  62. Mullan, Peter. Dir. The Magdalene Sisters, 2002.Google Scholar
  63. Murphy, Paula. “‘Wayward Girls and Fallen Women’: Negotiating Fact and Fiction in the Magdalen Laundries.” In Single Motherhood in Twentieth-Century Ireland: Cultural, Historical, and Social Essays, eds. Cinta Ramblado-Minero and Auxiliadora Pérez-Vides, 139–53. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2006.Google Scholar
  64. Musolff, Andreas. Metaphor and Political Discourse: Analogical Reasoning in Debates About Europe. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.Google Scholar
  65. ———. “The Study of Metaphor as Part of Critical Discourse Analysis.” Critical Discourse Studies 9, no. 3 (2012): 301–10.Google Scholar
  66. Nietzsche, Friedrich. “On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense.” In The Continental Aesthetics Reader, ed. Clive Cazeaux, 53–62. London: Routledge, 2000.Google Scholar
  67. O’Beirne, Kathy. Kathy’s Story: A Childhood Hell Inside the Magdalen Laundries. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 2005.Google Scholar
  68. O’Connor, Sinead. “To Sinead O’Connor, the Pope’s Apology for Sex Abuse in Ireland Seems Hollow.” Washington Post, 28 March 2010. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/25/AR2010032502363.html, accessed 25 January 2016.
  69. O’Donnell, Katherine. Magdalene Institutions: Recording an Oral and Archival History. Government of Ireland Collaborative Research Project Funded by the Irish Research Council, 2012. http://www.magdaleneoralhistory.com, accessed 30 December 2015.
  70. O’Donnell, Mick. UAM CorpusTool, 2016. http://www.corpustool.com/.
  71. O’Malley, Kathleen. Childhood Interrupted: Growing Up Under the Cruel Regime of the Sisters of Mercy. London: Virago, 2005.Google Scholar
  72. O’Riordan, Steven. The Forgotten Maggies, 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4VAdN7HaxQ, accessed 21 February 2016.
  73. Ördén Johansson, Hedvig. “‘…Or Else, They Lie Around.’ Time, Space and the Everyday in Post-independence Dublin.” Working Paper 3 (2014): 2–35.Google Scholar
  74. Parrot, Andrea, and Nina Cummings. Forsaken Females: The Global Brutalization of Women. Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto & Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.Google Scholar
  75. Pérez-Vides, Auxiliadora. “Gender, Deviance and Institutional Violence in Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries: An Analysis of Two Filmic Representations of Abuse.” In Teaching Against Violence: Reassessing the Toolbox, eds. Ines Testoni, et al., 77–92. Utrecht & Budapest: ATgender and Central European University Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  76. Pine, Emilie. “Scholarcast 34: Commemorating Abuse: Gender Politics and Making Space,” 2013. http://www.ucd.ie/scholarcast/scholarcast34.html, accessed 1 February 2016.
  77. Raftery, Mary, and Eoin O’Sullivan. Suffer the Little Children: The Inside Story of Ireland’s Industrial Schools. Dublin: New Island, 1999.Google Scholar
  78. Reddy, Michael J. “A Semantic Approach to Metaphor.” Chicago Linguistic Society 5 (1969): 210–51.Google Scholar
  79. Richards, Ivor Armstrong. The Philosophy of Rhetoric. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1936.Google Scholar
  80. Ricoeur, Paul. La Métaphore Vive. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1975.Google Scholar
  81. ———. The Rule of Metaphor: Multi-Disciplinary Studies in the Creation of Meaning in Language. Trans. R. Czerny, K. McLaughlin and J. Costello. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  82. Ritchie, L. David. Metaphor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  83. Robinson, Evelyn. “Sinking the Mother Ship.” Australian Journal of Adoption 6, no. 1 (2012): 1–12.Google Scholar
  84. Romaine, Suzanne. “War and Peace in the Global Greenhouse: Metaphors We Die By.” Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 11, no. 3 (1996): 175–94.Google Scholar
  85. Ryan, Sean, 2009. “Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Act.” http://www.childabusecommission.ie/rpt/pdfs/, accessed 30 January 2016.
  86. Santa Ana, O. “Like an Animal I Was Treated: Anti-Immigrant Metaphor in US Public Discourse.” Discourse and Society 10, no. 2 (1999): 191–224.Google Scholar
  87. Sebbane, Nathalie. “Magdalen Laundries: Enjeu des Droits de L’Homme et Responsabilité Publique.” Études Irlandaises 37, no. 1 (2012): 41–56.Google Scholar
  88. Semino, Elena, John Heywood, and Mick Short. “Methodological Problems in the Analysis of Metaphors in a Corpus of Conversations About Cancer.” Journal of Pragmatics 36 (2004): 1271–294.Google Scholar
  89. Shafer, Audrey. “Metaphor and Anesthesia.” Anesthesiology 83, no. 6 (1995): 1331–342.Google Scholar
  90. Shield, Paul. “‘Forty Seven, Today You Are Nine’: Systematic Abuse in Irish Childcare Institutions.” Group Analysis 39, no. 1 (2006): 25–35.Google Scholar
  91. Simpson, A.V., et al. “Doing Compassion or Doing Discipline? Power Relations and the Magdalene Laundries.” Journal of Political Power 7, no. 2 (2014): 253–74.Google Scholar
  92. Smith, James M. “The Politics of Sexual Knowledge: The Origins of Ireland’s Containment Culture and the Carrigan Report (1931).” Journal of the History of Sexuality 13, no. 2 (2004): 208–33.Google Scholar
  93. ———. “The Magdalene Sisters: Evidence, Testimony … Action?.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 32, no. 2 (2007a): 431–58.Google Scholar
  94. ———. Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries and the Nation’s Architecture of Containment. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007b.Google Scholar
  95. Sontag, Susan. AIDS and its Metaphors. London: Allen Lane, 1989.Google Scholar
  96. Soskice, Janet Martin. Metaphor and Religious Language. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.Google Scholar
  97. Stellardi, Giuseppe. Heidegger and Derrida on Philosophy and Metaphor. Amherst & New York: Humanity Books, 2000.Google Scholar
  98. Sweetser, Eve. From Etymology to Pragmatics: Metaphorical and Cultural Aspects of Semantic Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.Google Scholar
  99. Trenado Diaz, Marta. “The Cases of ‘Stolen Children’ in Spain and Ireland. Curtailing the Most Suitable Legal Framework on the Fight for ‘Real’ Identities.” ICL Journal 9 (2013): 1–53.Google Scholar
  100. Urban, Eva. “The Condition of Female Laundry Workers in Ireland 1922–1996: A Case of Labour Camps on Trial.” Études Irlandaises 37, no. 2 (2012): 49–64.Google Scholar
  101. Wecker, Erin Costello. “Reclaiming Magdalenism or Washing Away Sin: Magdalen Laundries and the Rhetorics of Feminine Silence.” Women’s Studies 44, no. 2 (2015): 264–79.Google Scholar
  102. Wilson, Deirdre, and Robyn Carston. “Metaphor, Relevance and the ‘Emergent Property’ Issue.” Mind and Language 21, no. 3 (2006): 404–33.Google Scholar
  103. Wojtczak, Helena. “The Contagious Diseases Acts.” British Women’s Emancipation since the Renaissance, 2009. http://www.historyofwomen.org/cdacts.html, accessed 15 December 2016.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miguel-Ángel Benítez-Castro
    • 1
  • Encarnación Hidalgo-Tenorio
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Filologías Inglesa y AlemanaUniversity of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Filologías Inglesa y AlemanaUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain

Personalised recommendations