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Examine Synge's Treatment of the Theme of Escapism in,

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Examine Synge's Treatment of the Theme of Escapism in, "The Playboy of the Western World" James Affleck, Rh1 Ireland, during the nineteenth century was ruled by the British, which created resentment with the Irish people feeling they were oppressed by the British authorities. These bitter feelings were not helped by the British government's laissez-faire policy, especially as Ireland was in a period of depression- only Northern Ireland (Ulster) had industrialised, the rest of Ireland was still agriculturally based and mainly rural (except for large cities such as Dublin) This was highlighted after the potato famine which saw Ireland lose a quarter of its population through death and emigration. In the West of Ireland, in the remote village where the play is set, the villagers lead simple, farming-based lives which are boring and monotonous. Naturally then, the people will seek an escape from boredom- escape from life. The villagers in the play are not particularly intelligent, as otherwise they would have left the village to seek employment in the cities or abroad, and they have strange ways of entertaining themselves; Philly, for example would put together the skeleton of a man buried in his yard for fun. ...read more.


There are several events in Jesus' life, which are mirrored in the play. When Christy enters the world (in which the play is set) there are three men who give him gifts- a place to stay, drink and the fire for warmth. Also, the next day Christy is visited by four girls, Susan, Honor and Nelly; who bring him gifts of eggs, butter, cake and a pullet. These events are similar to the birth of Christ and the Epiphany when shepherds from the field came to see the new saviour, and later Three Wise Men came bearing gifts to see the new born king. During the races, Christy rides victoriously on a donkey, just as Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Furthermore, if you take Christy's name, within it are the letters that make up the word 'Christ'. When Christy is exposed as a fraud, the people cannot accept who he truly is, and they attack him; they bind him with rope, burn his leg and go to murder/ execute him. This is similar to Jesus' crucifixion; as the people could not accept whom Jesus said he was. The people sent him off, bound (with rope and by duty) to be executed on the cross. ...read more.


to the extent that it would have been better if Christy had not come at all, such is the damage done by his departure. The reaction of the villagers when they see Christy actually attempt to kill his father is one of shock and outrage; he is shunned and rejected before they turn against him and persecute him for his actions. This represents another Irish attitude- that they like the ideals but not always the actions, as Pegeen says: "There is a great gap between a gallous story and a dirty deed" In short, the people only really fell in love with Christy's stories and when the witnessed the violence first hand, they were appalled. Robin Skelton suggests that Pegeen: "represents an Ireland dreaming of independence cannot accept the consequences of the dream becoming a reality." He is implying that while most Irish dreamt of independence from Britain, but in reality they could not accept the consequences. Finally, with Synge linking Christy to Christ, he is ridiculing Catholic Ireland by suggesting that when a Saviour actually does come to them, they are too stuck in their ways (as Synge believed the Church was) to accept him and end up trying to kill him, and finally the saviour leaves them, worse off than before. ...read more.

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