Choric Elements in Riders to the Sea by Synge

Topics: Tragedy, Theatre of ancient Greece, Sophocles Pages: 3 (759 words) Published: March 14, 2013
Riders to the Sea presents Cathleen and Nora as important choric charactersm Comment on choric characters in Riders to the Sea by Synge

One of the fundamental aspects of the classical Greek tragedy is the chorus. The chorus is a part of the traditional origin of the Greek drama. It usually implies a single singer or a band of singers or dancers. Aristotle characterizes it as 'a sharer in the action' of the play [The Poetics, Chapter 18]. The chorus reviews what has already been passed, refers to what is going on and points out what is coming.

In Riders to the Sea the dramatist has presented choric elements by Cathleen and Nora. In this play Cathleen and Nora, the two daughters of Maurya have the intensity and identity of chorus, though they differ from Greek chorus. Moreover Maurya herself occasionally becomes a choric voice. Thus the play reveals character-chorus identity through the action of these characters. The function of the chorus is thematic, spiritual and structural. In Riders to the Sea the playwright follows the same idea even within a one act play.

First, the chorus points out the past action of the play and thereby informs the audience of the past. When the play starts, Nora and Cathleen discuss about the past incidents. Nora brings out the bundle and we also learn that their brother Michael is missing for nine days; that the Young Priest has sent the bundle containing a shirt and stockings of a drowned man who was found and buried in Donegal.

Second, the chorus comments on the present. This is evidently seen in the very conversation between Nora and Cathleen. We learn that their brother Bartley is undertaking a journey across the sea; that the sea is stormy; that the Young priest cannot stop Bartley. But the most important point comes through the speech of Nora. She quotes Young priest "Almighty god won't leave her destitute.... with no son living". We learn that Bartley is the last surviving male member...
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