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Riders to the Sea by John Millington Synge Analysis



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    Riders to the sea is written by famous Irishman drama writer John Millington Synge as one of his magnum opus. Riders to the sea was written in 1903 and performed on 1904 at Irish National Society. It is a one-act tragedy with four characters: Maurya(mother), Bartley(son), Cathleen(daughter) and Nora(another daughter), based on how Irishmen struggle with the ferocious sea and being hopeless. The whole play talks about one main story: the family’s struggle with the sea because their income money for living was come from the sea.

    Although their family is living a miserable live, they still can’t living without the sea. Their lives also shows the typical life of under-class people in Ireland. Riders to the sea is a great tragedy with thick tragedy emotion. It really shocks me. On the one hand the play shows how brave people are when they are facing the nature; on the other hand it shows how cruel life is and how uncontrollable the fate is. In this play, the sea symbolizes a living evil, which is extremely dangerous, because it took away either Maurya‘s husband, her husband’s father and the lives of all her five sons’ lives.

    People are so small and inability when they are facing the all-powerful natural, which was present by the sea . All of these make me truly understand how painful and sad their life is. Riders to the sea has a features, which can’t be usually seen in other dramas: it shows an opinion that people has their fate, which can’t be changed by people. When I read the play, I feel there are some kinds of mystery power who is controlling the main character’s life.

    At beginning of the play, although the author doesn’t say the shirt and the sock is from Michael, I can get the answer by guess because they were got off a drowned man in Donegal. When Bartley is going to sell the horse, Maurya worried that he won’t came back, “He’s gone now, and when the black night is falling I’ll have no son left in the world. ” It shows what is going to happened to Bartley. When Maurya is going to bring bread to Bartley and “tried to say ‘God speed you’, but something choked the words”.

    Maurya saw Micheal sitting on the grey horse with nice clothes and new shoes, but the grey horse is the one who kick Bartley down to the sea and make him died. Although Bartley’s died is unbelievable and mysterious, it add more sadness effect to the play. The live of Irishmen in the play looks more pitiful when I reached reading this part. It is short drama but the author gives us a lot of information using people’s conversation. Although there is no narrator in the play, it still shows us how everything going clearly.

    Nora said, “he went down to see would there be another boat sailing in the week, and I’m thinking it won’t be long till he is here now, for the tide is turning at the green head, and the hooker’s tacking from the east”. It shows what Batley is going to do well. At the end of the play, Maurya accepts the unbelievable truth that her last son has gone, and say “no man at all can be living forever, and we must be satisfied”. I can’t image how painful and sad she is when she lost her last son. What Maurya has said is the showing of their mind.

    Not only accepting the truth, their family can also face the truth bravely. What Bartley has done shows this well. He knew clearly what happened to his father, grandfather and his five elder brothers. Bartley also knew that if he go to the sea he would meet a lot of dangerous things and even lose his life. Although his mother tried her best to stop him:’ if it was a hundred horses, or a thousand horses, you had itself what is the price of a thousand horses against a son where there is one son only’, Bartley still decided to go and said:’ I can ride down on the mare, and I must go now quickly’.

    He knew he would died like all his brothers did but he must go. As a man, he should earn money for his family although it was dangerous. How the tragedy happened is because go to the sea is the only one way for them to earn money for living. Not only Maurya’s family has this fate, all the families in Ireland are facing the same fate at that time. It is not only a tragedy happened to one family but also happened to all the other families.

    Riders to the Sea by John Millington Synge Analysis. (2017, Feb 18). Retrieved from

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