Irish Stereotypes In The 19th Century

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In sociology, a stereotype can be defined as “a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group”. We develop stereotypes when there is an absence of knowledge or an unwilling attitude towards judgments of people or their situations. Stereotypes allow us to “fill in the blanks” when we don’t understand the complete image of a person or group. Stereotypes are often negative and this can lead to discrimination and persecution. However, positive stereotypes also exist. The Irish stereotype is a stereotype that has been around for many years. It has developed over the years and is seen in many ways, from plays and literature, to social media and comedy. The Irish stereotype…show more content…
This was mainly a negative stereotype, depicting the Irish as beasts or apes. A historian, Dale Knobel, wrote a book named Paddy and the Republic in which he examined the culture of language in everyday American life. He discovered that there was a lot of negativity imposed toward the Irish in America and this strengthened during the Civil War. The Irish were considered ‘outsiders’ and this manifested how American nativists undermined immigrant eligibility and identity in this period. As migrations from the Great Famine progressed, all of the attitudes and negativity toward the Irish coalesced and created the male stereotype called Paddy and the female stereotype called Bridget. Adjectives accompanying these stereotypes included ‘pugnacious, quarrelsome, impudent, impertinent, ignorant, vicious, and reckless’. This quickly became a frequently used lexical field, relating to Irish Americans. By 1850, the Irish stereotype became more of a stereotype of physical description and people began employing words such as ‘ragged, lowbrow, brutish, wild-looking, and course-haired’. When concerning jobs, the Irish in New York were generally servants and peddlers, meaning that there were many personal encounters between American and Irish people. Through word of mouth, the Image of the Irish turned into an attitude and therefore became a source of judgment. While the stereotype of the Irish immigrant was mainly established using attitudes and words, there were many visual representations enhancing it, such as political cartoons and stage performances, similar to the stereotype of the Stage

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