Response Paper: the playboy of the western world

Published under category: Ordering Custom Papers | 2015-05-16 23:34:58 UTC

Context: Drama and Theatre

JM Synge’s play christened the playboy of the western world is without doubt a controversial play that illustrates its major themes in a very complex way. Even though the content of the play would not appear controversial to today’s audience, the inclusion of satire in the play, albeit in a humorous way, and the general lack of moral values in the play would most likely have offended the middle-class Dublin audience in 1907 when the play was first staged. Not only does Synge satirize gender in his play but he also satirizes religion and the patriarchal way of life of the rural Irishmen. At the beginning of the play, Synge portrays Christopher Mahon as a frightened and weak individual whereas Pegeen Mike is represented as having a strong, almost manly persona that enables her to protect Christopher from the aggressive advances of Widow Quin. When the widow is introduced into the play, Christopher appears too dependent on the widow as seen in the way the widow treats him like a small child. Even though the widow’s portrayal of a protector role would seem rather normal in today’s society, the widow’s assumption of a status that was higher than Christopher, a man, would most likely have amused the audience of 1907 given that in those days, the Irish society was highly patriarchal. Pegeen is not amused with the influence portrayed by the widow and she shows her feelings by fighting against the widow’s influence over Christopher who appears to be very willing to ignore his manly roles when he comforts himself behind Peggen’s protection. Christopher is therefore shown as a young man whose masculinity has been seriously compromised since he does not seem to have the will or strength to disapprove the control that the two women have over him. The satire turns comical when the two women engage in a brawl, something that was in those days reserved for men, as Christopher helplessly stands in their middle. Synge’s depiction of the local priest called Father Reilly presents a satirical view of religion. Even though the father is now shown anywhere in the play, his presence is recognized when he is depicted as part of the reason why the widow decided to pursue Christopher. This is well seen in the scene where the widow replies Peggen’s question by telling her that she (the widow) got to know about Christopher during her meeting with Father Reilly and Shawn Keogh. Given that Ireland in the early 1900 was highly devoted to the Catholic Church, the audience of those days would not be surprised by the father’s intervention but to today’s audience, the chain of events that follow Christopher’s rather normal actions appears comical. It would, however, have been surprising and disappointing to the audience of the early 1900 that the play had only one religious figure, the father, when a significant population of the nation was deeply devoted to the church. Even more surprising is that the other characters in the play show little, if any, interest in religion, and that the widow scandalizes the name of Christ when she calls upon Him to help her save Christopher. Her decision to call upon Christ is very ironical considering that Synge makes it rather obvious that the intentions that she has for Christopher are far from being holy. Perhaps Synge included this satirical view of religion to illustrate that while the middle class Irish audience of those days were absurdly obsessed with religion, the people in the rural areas of Ireland gave little regards to the teachings of the Catholic Church. ORDER PLAGIARISM FREE PAPER


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