Riders to the Sea as a modern tragedy

Topics: Tragedy, Drama, Poetics Pages: 3 (1050 words) Published: October 18, 2013
Riders to the Sea is a famous one-act tragic play by John Millington Synge containing both modern and classical elements in it. The play is modern in that it deals with the sorrows and predicaments of a common human being and it is classical in that it maintains the classical principles of drama as laid down in Aristotle’s Poetic. Simply we can say that Riders to the Sea is a modern tragedy in classical settings and with classical overtones. Unlike Greek tragedies, Riders to the Sea deals with the sufferings of a common human being named Maurya who is the head of an Irish peasant-cum fisherman family. While Greek tragedies dealt with the sufferings of high-born people, modern tragedies deal with the sufferings of common people. And while Greek tragedies tell the stories of kings and princes or people of kingly status, which do not resemble the sufferings of the whole mass of people of that country, a modern tragedy tells the story of a common man whose sorrows, sufferings and predicaments are not individual, rather resemble the sorrows and sufferings of the whole mass of people of the protagonist’s class in his/ her own country as well as in other countries. Therefore the story of a modern tragedy is general and universal but the story of a Greek tragedy remains the story of a particular man or a particular family; it is not general or universal. Hence the story of Oedipus Rex is the tragic story of a particular king of a particular country, but the story of Riders to the Sea is the story of all families living in the Aran islands. It is also the story of those families in other countries where people are helpless like Maurya in the hands of nature. In Riders to the Sea, the tragic intensity of the life of Maurya, who falls a victim to her ill-luck losing all the male members of the family in the sea is also shared by other women of Aran Islands. Therefore, Maurya is not an individual woman here; she is every woman of her community. Wretched and helpless women...
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