Mad Daughters, Narcissist Mothers: A Study of Turn-Taking Mechanism in Martin MacDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane


  • Amal Gouda Abdel Aziz Unaizah College of Sciences and Arts, Qassim University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Huda Sulieman Al Qunayeer Unaizah College of Sciences and Arts, Qassim University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia



Turn taking, the beauty Queen of Leenane, family crisis, dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship.


Martin MacDonagh's play, The Beauty Queen of Leenane depicts a violent domestic crisis in a rural household of post-colonial Ireland. Teeming with wild humor and anxiety, the play tells the gloomy fate of Maureen Folan, a mentally fragile and emotionally trapped spinster in her early forties and Mag, her aging, selfish and demanding mother. The main objective of this paper is to apply a conversation analysis (CA) approach to evaluate the mutually destructive relationship between the mother, who constantly strives to inhibit her daughter's romantic life, and the daughter who accuses her mother of constraining her natural right for self-realization. The first part of this paper outlines the work of the conversational analysts of the ethnomethodological school, namely Sacks, Schegloff and Jefferson, which crystalizes the mechanics of turn taking in ordinary conversation. The second part employs the insights derived from the conversational analysts to examine the strategies of speech alternation and interaction management in the opening scene to demonstrate how the two women are involved in a fierce battle for control that inevitably leads to the play's appalling end in which one of them devastates the other.