Complete summary of J. M. Synge’s Riders to the Sea. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of Riders to the Sea. Riders to the Sea, one-act play by John Millington Synge, published in and produced in Riders to the Sea is set in the Aran Islands off the west coast. Purchase Plays by John Millington Synge. AFTER nine days of constant grieving for her missing son, Michael, who, she feels certain, has been drowned, old.
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Poet, blogger, college professor, literature, and film enthusiast. Excited about critical and creative writing. He keeps the sea as the solitary background implying both sustenance and destruction. The title itself presents the universal conflict between riders and sea, between agents of life and the agency of death, between transient human actions and the eternal permanence of nature.
The characters in the play refer continuously to the sea. They are hardly able to speak without bringing in a reference to the vast and indifferent waves, both literally and figuratively.
The tensions between Maurya and Bartley, Maurya and Cathleen, are all tbe in the sea. Maurya has seen the death of syngf in ssea family which, in turn, causes her to stop Bartley from venturing out with his horses:. It is as if she instinctively knows that Michael is dead and Bartley would meet a similar fate. She openly expresses her despair because of her futile battle against the sea, which she sees as the rival of her peace:. He’s gone now, and when the black night is falling I’ll have no son left me in the world.
Countering such a perspective is Cathleen’s continuous assertions that the sea is also a provider of sustenance. In terms of conflict, the play shows not much external action or interaction between characters. The conflict is internalized as it is the universal conflict of man against predetermined fate.
In seeing the sea as her antagonist, Maurya makes an essential mistake. She considers rivers the destruction implied in it riers overlooks the fact that it is the sea which has sustained their lives for so long. This is recognised by her children as Cathleen blurts out:. From a different perspective it is the sea which makes Maurya wiser than even religious men like the young Priest. The priest had put rifers faith on the Institution of Christianity believing that God would not leave Maurya with no son living.
However, Maurya shows a greater wisdom in fearing the worst, which happens to confirm synnge understanding of life. The priest derives his knowledge from scriptures. He has little knowledge about the real rules tk nature “It’s little the like of him knows of the sea.
The magnitude of Mauryas struggle against the terrible elemental force is appreciable.
Riders to the Sea
She thinks that the sea is a vindictive, cruel, active agent set against her. In reality, the sea is only an agent where humans choose to end their rides. This is certainly hinted at in the title where the elusive relationship between riders and the sea is worth examining.
In establishing the unusual association of riding and syngge, Synge makes it very clear at the very onset that the sea is not sfa a geographical entity.
It is also the sea of life where every living object is a rider. It may also mean the sea of death to which we all ride and eventually surrender. This is how Synge manages to universalize the suffering of an individual to the greatest magnitude.
The Role of the Sea in “Riders to the Sea” by J.M.Synge
The sea becomes then, not just a force of nature, appeasing the senses and adding beauty to the environment. It overpowers man even while subjecting him to depend upon it. Perhaps he is aware that the sea will claim him one day or the other, and to tarry on one occasion would be a futile attempt toward escaping inevitable death.
At the end, however, Maurya appears to overcome her inner conflict, although at the highest cost.
Her vision at the spring well opened her eyes to the fact that a red mare is always thhe by a grey pony, that life is always persuaded by death; Bartley would go where Michael has reached. Her vision has no mention of the sea; she has realised that the she is only an agent and not her antagonist at all. The sea is not an adversary, so it would not harm her anymore: Nine days of keening have culminated into the tenth day of acceptance.
Once again Maurya finds herself able to bless all men: The wea, in this context, acquires a versatile role, affecting human habits, superstitions, topography and climate. Despite being absent on stage, the sea presents itself through the characters who confront, venture into, and finally surrender to it. Sign in or sae up and post using a HubPages Network account.
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Both a Background and a Character The sea becomes then, not just a force of nature, appeasing the senses and adding beauty to the environment.
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