On character and truth

‘You see McDonnell the value of a good character’

in Men on trial
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Throughout this book, men’s performances were implicated in shaping their character for the court. This chapter explores how character was used as a form of evidence within the courtroom in the assessment of truth. It continues a discussion of character through looking at how it was socially produced in relation to family, place, religion and class, highlighting how social status continued to give weight to the truth claims of speakers. It then looks at alternative models for assessing truth, including oath-taking, performances of lying and honesty, and the new forensic science. It argues that whilst other forms of identifying truth were emerging, men’s performances of character remained at the heart of the production of justice.

Men on trial

Performing embodiment, emotion and identity in Ireland, 1800-45

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