The Theme of The Playboy of the Western World


The Theme of The Playboy of the Western World


The Theme of The Playboy of the Western World

The Theme of The Playboy of the Western World

The Theme of The Playboy of the Western World

The play entitled ‘The Playboy of the Western World’ by J. M. Synge (1871-1909) is based on a story (myth) that the author happened to hear from an old man during his stay on the Aran Island which is situated at the Western Coast of Ireland. The author added fertile imagination and realism to the myth and wrote out this superb playmaking a poetic depiction of the life and minds of the islanders. Violence, gallantry, love and rivalry in love are the principal themes of the play. Through these themes, the author has illustrated that women are generally hero worshippers. They prefer heroic young boys as their husbands.

One night, a young boy, about twenty, named Christopher Mahon (briefly Christy) arrives at a shebeen in the sea-side village of Mayo in Ireland. He seems to be very tired of long walking for ten or eleven days. He seeks refuge in the shebeen. He tells the people, who are present there, the story of how he quarrelled with his father and murdered his own father. The people, hearing him that he has killed his father, begin to treat him hospitably because they believe that there is something heroic in him. Especially Michael James the owner of the shebeen and his daughter Pegeen Mike, who was betrothed to a local young boy called Shawn Keogh, took great interest in Christy because of his gallantry in murdering his father. Michael James and Pegeen appoint Christy as a pot-boy in the shebeen to assist in running the shebeen. Pegeen who was engaged to Shawn, instantly turns her attention to Christy and almost falls in love with him. After some time, a widow by the name of Quin comes and being fascinated by the valour of Christy, begins to pull him towards her. She says:

”There is great temptation in a man did slay his da… young fellow, so rise and come with me.”

Christy spends the night there in the shebeen. The next morning some village girls by the names of- Sara, Susan, Honor and Nelly- hearing the gallant story of Christy, from Shawn’s and widow Quin’s mouths, arrive there with respective presents in honour of the hero. Sara, in praise of Christy, says:

”Then my thousand welcomes to you and I’ve run up with a brace of duck’s eggs for your food,”

Susan says:

”And I run up with a part of butter.”

Honor says:

”And I brought you a little cut of cake.”

Nelly says:

”And I brought you a little laying pullet.”

Thus Christy turns into a hero overnight. And rounding him a rivalry among the girls, especially between Pegeen and Widow Quin, begins. Quin begins to flatter him to win his heart. On the other hand, Pegeen Mike begins to see day-dream with Christy as her would-be husband. Already being invited and requested by the village girls, Christy takes part to a local sports competition that evening where Christy won all the contests.

In the meantime, Christy’s father by the name of Old Mahon, who had not really died of the blow done by Christy, arrives there. His father suddenly begins to beat him calling his son, “a dirty, sluttering fellow”.  Being enraged, Christy gives a blow with a narrow spade on the skull of his father.  His father falls down unconscious. Seeing all this, the people that are present there, suddenly become hostile to Christy and tie him up with a tree and begin to beat him. After some time, Old Mahon comes into consciousness unties his son and makes a compromise with his son that Christy will be the brave leader onward and his father will be subordinate to his son. Then they take leave. On their departure, Pegeen Mike, who fell in love with the gallant boy, utters in grief:

”Oh, my grief, I’ve lost him surely. I’ve lost the only playboy of the Western world.”

Thus, the dramatist J. M. Synge has brought about the themes of violence, love and rivalry in love in the play with success and along with this, the author substantiates that women are hero worshippers. 0 0 0 

The Theme of The Playboy of the Western WorldT

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N. B. This article entitled ‘The Theme of The Playboy of the Western World’ originally belongs to the book ‘World Drama Criticism‘ by Menonim Menonimus.  The Theme of The Playboy of the Western WorldThe Theme of The Playboy of the Western WorldT

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I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.


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