Riders to the sea as a Tragedy
Drama must excite, startle, thrill and shake us. Such effects cannot be produced by a play which is lacking in conflict. The conflict in a tragic play may be between human beings pulling in different directions, between a character and the environment in which he finds himself or the society of which he is a member. Riders to the Sea succeeds in representing human sufferings which raises pity and fear among us and makes us to decide that the play is a great one in its tragic appeal. The tragic theme of Riders to the Sea moves round with the deep pathos of a mother Maurya. The tragedy of the play is simple and straight- forward, but sublime and universal in its penetrative appeal. The play brings out the utter tragedy of humanity, pitted against the violent force of a cold, unrelenting, natural element- the sea. The sea assumes here almost the role of fate and becomes instrumental to human suffering and death.
Riders to the sea is indeed a great tragedy in its representation of human suffering and cathartic appeal. There are two views on the tragic vision of life. One is that man is the play- thing of inscrutable power called fate and another is that character is responsible for the tragic end. In Greek tragedies, tragic fate for the heroes is predetermined. Oedipus and Antigone become obstinate and tyrannical. Their tragedy is due to their over confidence in their respective attitudes. In this light, we see Riders to the Sea as a suitable combination of Greek and Shakespearean tragedies.
The sea is a force of Nature over which nobody has any control. Opposing the sea, and opposed by the sea, are the members of the community living on the island which serves as the setting for this play. The human opponents of the sea in this play are Bartley, his sisters Cathleen and Nora, and his mother Maurya. These human opponents operate on three levels. Bartley must sell his horses at the Galway fair. His sisters seem to have a...
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