Riders to the Sea: The Unseen Character
Throughout literature there are numerous examples of characters that are mentioned in the work and yet never actually make an appearance onstage or in the book; famous examples include Godot in Waiting for Godot, or Sauron from the Lord of the Rings. These "unseen" characters hold a certain power and terror for the characters of the work, as well as the audience that they are intended for. These characters are never seen, only mentioned with a certain reverence or awe, and thought of as all powerful beings. They leave something to the imagination for a reader or audience member, we can imagine the worst about these characters, what kind of power they hold over the beloved characters in the story because we don't know what they look like and therefore cannot be proven wrong by their physical limitations. This literary device can even be seen in the way people worship God from the Bible, no one has truly ever seen Him (depending on your beliefs), and yet He is worshipped, loved, and feared all at the same time. In Riders to the Sea by John M. Synge, the sea can also be thought of as one of these "unseen" all powerful characters. The sea so intricately affects the lives of the members of the poor Irish family in this play, as well as the people of the Aran Islands. They live off of the sea, yet the sea is also a taker of life. The sea is a natural disaster that shows no remorse for those that fall victim to it. It is like a pathological serial killer with no emotions whatsoever. On one side of the spectrum the sea is a positive force that provides a source of food, income, and a mode of for the families of the island to the main land. It is how the men provide sustenance, and how the women support their men in this endeavor. The women know that they cannot fight this force; the men must do this for it is their fate, and therefore all the women of the islands can do is bless the men on their journeys. They think that by...
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