Depths of Mrs. Sinico’s Death

My research topic is focusing on the role of the temperance movement in Dublin society around the early 1900s and specifically how it adds to our understanding of Mrs. Sinico’s death in ‘A Painful Case’. There was a strong belief that alcoholism was a disease and that any affected person is deserving of the punishment that follows, calling the disease a ‘national shame’. Many nationalists looked to the Catholic temperance movement, believing that in order to successfully gain Irish independence, sobriety was crucial. The movement also called for medical workers to protect those children whose parents were intemperate and to cure the parents and cleanse the home. In ‘A Painful Case’, Mrs. Sinico ultimately becomes intemperate and it leads to her death. The final blame was put on no one, but I think there is definitely some role of society that contributed to her continued use of alcohol and resulting isolation. The stigma surrounding alcoholism adds an additional layer of painfulness to her death and reflects the complete lack of understanding and support from those around her.


  1. That’s a really interesting aspect of the story to focus on! I think it’s tempting to just focus on Mr. Duffy’s internality within the short story, but Mrs. Sinico is as much a part of the conflict as he is. Connecting her suffering to a broader movement to get a better understanding of the social pressures she may have been under is an intriguing way to expand the text.

  2. This is an interesting topic to examine. I would love to see how you expand on the idea that her alcoholism was a large contributor to her suicide. I would also love to see how you navigate the myriad of social tensions that made alcoholism a failed escape.

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