Introduction to Literature 125
October 8, 2011
Interesting Literary Elements in the Riders of the Sea
There are several different literary elements that are available to assist in analyzing literature. In J. M. Synge’s (1903) tragic drama Riders of the Sea there are several interesting literary elements throughout. The scene is set in a cottage in an island off western Ireland, where an older woman, Maurya, and her daughters are mourning the anticipated news of her son’s death. The author’s use of literary elements in this tragedy allows him to paint the picture of sorrow, mourning, and the emotional capacity of human’s through dramatic irony, foreshadowing, and dialogue.
The author uses dramatic irony to show the raw emotion Maurya feels as the plot unfolds. Maurya’s daughters, Cathleen and Nora, receive a bundle from their priest consisting of Michaels, Maurya’s son, shirt and stockings. Judith Leder offers interesting insight on Maurya’s oldest daughter Cathleen adding that “Always practical, Cathleen wants everything to go smoothly and sensibly. Although she is worried about her mother, she knows just how to deal with the old woman's frailty” (Leder, 1990). It is clear that Cathleen knew her mother’s mental state and saw it best to hide the clothes in the loft to avoid further anguish to Maurya. This was information that the reader was privy to. It was assumed that Michael was dead based on this bit of information and Maurya was left unaware for her own well-being.
Foreshadowing was evident throughout the story. Maurya forecasts her son Bartley’s death when she says “It's a hard thing they'll be saying below if the body is washed up and there's no man in it to make the coffin, and I after giving a big price for the finest white boards you'd find in Connemara” (as cited in Clugston, 2010, section 13.3 lines 64-66). At this point in the story Bartley is trying to take the horses to the...