Friday, 9 September 2011

Life of Aran Islanders as depicted in Synge’s ‘Riders to the Sea’



         Ans. Synge’s ‘Riders to the Sea’ (1904) is undoubtedly a regional play with a local colouring. It gives a vivid account of the life and manners of the poor islanders off the West-Coast of island. Synge’s deep and intimate acquaintance with the life of the poor, innocent and simple nearted peasantry has enabled him to re-capture the beauty and poetry of their life.
         Born and brought up as they are in the island their life has been inextricably tied up with moorlands, rugged chiffs, windy heaths and howling seas. They cultivate their small plots of land, but land, being rocky as it is alone cann’t give them the necessary subsistence. Hence, they take to fishing in the sea around. They cann’t do, they cann’t subsist without venturing out on the sea. Maurya seeks to prevent her only surviving son from crossing over the stormy sea saying—
         “he wasn’t go this day with the wind rising the south and west.” But Bartley will have to go to the mainland for selling the horses.
         The dark landscape, the monotony of the wave, the simple dignity of the Islanders and their customs, dresses, festivals have in them, the elements of a fairly tale, yet the tragic overtone is unmistakable even the most ordinary things of life are made to have tragic implication life for them in a unending sorrow. They are in horrible economic plight. The women folk work at the spinning wheels, mend torn pieces of cloths and cook their simple food. The men folk rear sheep, pigs and horses and make ashes out of the sea weeds for the manufacture of soda and potash. They make fuel out of the decomposed vegitable matter because they cann’t affored carthy fuel.
         Poverty and sufferings are then the part and parcel of life of these people. Man jet drowned and die every now and then. The pecularity of the circumstances of their life is that whether they like or not they cann’t but take risk in sailing ever the perilous sea. If they do not take risk they will have to starve at home. There in lies the predicament of their life. The sea by delivering the successive blows to them has made them fatalist. Maurya realizes in the end that which is totaled for them cann’t be blotted. She has learnt from her own experience that what can not be cured must be endured.
         Thus, Synge in his ‘Riders to the Sea’ (1904) has faithfully reproduced the inner beauty and harmony in the life of these primitive people who have not yet lost the poetry of an imaginative life by sophistication.

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