Riders To The Sea John Millington Synge's Essay

Length: 3 pages Sources: 3 Subject: Family and Marriage Type: Essay Paper: #9245006 Related Topics: Ireland, Textual Analysis, No Child Left Behind Act, Personal Narrative
Excerpt from Essay :

¶ … Riders to the Sea

John Millington Synge's one act play "Riders to the Sea" details the hardships that a family has to go through and the risks and sacrifices that they have made in order to survive. "Riders to the Sea" takes a lot of its inspiration from Synge's personal experiences and observations from living on the Aran Islands in Ireland "for a number of years…with peasant seamen and their families" (J.M. Synge, n.d.). Despite its length, "Riders to the Sea" is able to show "a window in to the life of the people in ancient times: the life of the Aran community is archaic: untouched by modern life, untouched by colonialism" (Notes on Synge's "Riders to the Sea," n.d.). In "Riders to the Sea," Synge provides a commentary on the power that the sea holds over the people that have been isolated because of it -- the sea is both a force that provides for people and also a force that can take away life. Through the play's structure, narrative, and use of irony, Synge is able to show how a family sacrifices everything that they have in order to survive and how despite everything that they have lost, still hang on to their faith.

The structure of "Riders to the Sea" is unique in two aspects. One of the ways that it is unique is that is able to embody many elements of a tragedy and a second aspect in which it is unique is...


The play adheres to Aristotle's beliefs that tragedy should have unity of place, unity of time, and unity of action. In the play, all the events take place in a single location and what is more, the play focuses on a single family and the women that are left behind by the sea's cruelty. Secondly, all the events take place during the course of a single day; by the end of the play, Maurya is informed that Bartley, her last surviving son, had been killed on the journey that he embarked upon earlier in the day. Lastly, unity of action is maintained by Synge focusing on a single family and the events that occur during the course of the day, specifically how the sea has impacted their family and how it has deprived Maurya of her sons (Chapter 14; Synge, 1902).

One of the most interesting aspects of the play is how tragedy and social commentary is intertwined. At the end of the play, Maurya has lost all the male members of her family to the sea. These men had no other option than to risk their lives for the benefit of the family because the livelihood of their family depended on the males' ability to travel. For instance, Maurya's last remaining son, Bartley, is on his way to Connemara to sell a horse in order to get money to help his family survive. Despite knowing the risk, Bartley's determination to go to sell the horse highlights Synge's commentary on the social issues of poverty. Furthermore, religion plays a major role in the decisions that are made by Maurya and her sons. For example, upon Bartley's departure, Maurya exclaims, "He's gone now, God spare us, and we'll not see him again. He's gone now, and when the black night is falling I'll have no son left me in the world" (Synge, 1902). Additionally, despite the fact that Maurya is stripped of all her sons -- Shawn,…

Sources Used in Documents:


J.M. Synge. (n.d.). The Literature Network. Accessed 4 August 2012, from http://www.online-


Notes on Synge's "Riders to the Sea." (n.d.). Bielefeld University. Accessed 4 August 2012,

from http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/lili/personen/fleischmann/archsuse03/notesirl6onsynge.htm

Cite this Document:

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