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Shamrocks of Stone - the Antagonists

Shamrocks of Stone is a historical murder mystery, so part of the storyline is solving who killed Aidan. For much of the story, the murderer remains silently lurking in the shadows, but that doesn't mean Orfhlait doesn't have some antagonists.


Much of the story centers around Orfhlait's attempt to remind God that He loves her. Dedicated to the Lord from birth, Orfhlait's position in her community is one she dislikes. She is a highly intelligent, energetic and argumentative woman stuck in a place where women cannot grow. In part this is due to culture, and in part it is due to her religious community.

Whether or not Orfhlait would have more chances outside the convent is debatable because as a woman, her avenues of further education are limited. She is a woman stuck in a man's world, with no way to find her path. The Mother Superior provides Orfhlait with all the resources she can possibly have, but even those aren't always enough.

External - Community & Family

There are a few members of her community who rise up to cause her trouble, one of them is Sister Misercordia who has made it duty in life to turn Orfhlait into a good nun. She is the type of woman who feels everyone needs to live life exactly as she did even if her life would never suit another.

Breasal is an arrogant nuisance known more for his brazenness than his intelligence. He's around Orfhlait's age, but has made it his purpose in life to draw out her anger whenever he can.

The biggest source of antagonism in the book actually comes from Orfhlait's family. With the exception of Amergin, Orfhlait's brothers and sisters seem to hate her. Subtle and blatant attacks come from all sides. The worst offender is her mother, however. Such is her relationship with her mother that Orfhlait never mentions the name of her mother at all in the book.

Opinions and Thoughts

Probably two of the largest antagonists come not in physical form, but in abstract forms though expressed by many in the book: gender and ethnicity.

In the book, Orfhlait is constantly pushed down through her church and culture because she is a highly intellectual woman. Had she been male, it would be easier. On the other hand, she learns of attitudes against the native Irish. Though she is a mixture of Irish and Norman, she allies herself with Ireland, and sees herself as Irish. Even in this time period, the Anglo-Normans looked down on the native Irish.

All in all, there are several avenues of antagonism in the book. The question for Orfhlait becomes: which antagonism is strong enough to kill?


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