Ans. Maurya, as portrayed by I. M. Synge (1871-1909) in ‘Riders to the Sea’ (1904), is truly an unforgettable character who wins our admiration by her unusual power of endurance, by her capacity to withstand her misfortunes, and by her dignified behaviour at a time when she has suffered the most painful bereavement of her life. She is often compared to Meda and cleopetra.
When the play opens, Maurya is feeling sorrow-stricken because of the reported death by drowning of her son Michael. But Maurya has not been prosprated by grief, as we find when she comes into the kitchen from the inner room of the cottage.
Maurya is strongly opposed to Bartley’s undertaking the trip to the mainland. She tries to dissude him from going, and gives two reasons why he must not go. In the first place, he may be needed in the house to help in making a coffin for Michael in case michael’s dead body. Secondly, there are indications that a storm will soon blood on the sea, and Bartley should not take rusk in crossing over the sea. She says :
“A star is up against the moon
And it rising in the night.”
Her deep affection for Bartley is dearly, revealed in her following speech :
“If it was a hundred horses or
A thousand horses, you had itself,
What is the price of or thousand horses
Against a son where there’s one son only?”
Maurya has a premonition of Bartley’s death. Perhaps, it is her past experience of the sea which gives rise to this fear in her mind. As Bart;eu os ;eavomg. Sje ex[resses a dee[ a[[rejeisopm anpit jos safety, and she feels almost certain that he is leaving the house forever. She says—
“He’s gone now, god spare us, and
We’ll not see him again. He’s gone now.”
Nora gives her mother a stick with which she can support herself while walking to the spot specified by Cathleen. This stick had been brought by Michael from Connemara. Michael himself having been drowned, Maurya is struck by the incongruity of the situation. She says—
“In the big world the old people do be leaving things after them for their sons and children, but in this place it is the young men do be leaving things behind for them that do be old.”
Maurya is a stern realist with a bundle of superstitions beliefs. She begins to keen when she has seen—
“The fearfulest thing any person has seen since the day Bride Dare Seen The dead man with the child in his arms.”
She says the girls that she had first seen Bartley riding on the red mare, and then Michael riding the grey pony behind Bartley. Evidently Maurya had seen a vision of Michael’s ghost. From this vision she draw the inference that Bartley would now be lost on the sea. In any case, the fact remains that her seeing Michael’s ghost shows her superstitions nature.
When the dead body of Bartley is brought into the house, Maurya’s tragedy is completed. It is note worthy here that Maurya does not break down or collapse. Nor dies she utter loud lamentations, hearing her hair or beating her breast as any ordinary woman might have done under the circumstances. Maurya is able to control her grief. She simply kneels by Bartley’s dead body, and in a stoical mood she says that she will have now no need to keen and that she will have ‘a great rest’ and ‘great sleeping’ in the long nights of the winter. She then invokes god’s blessings on the departed souls and also on the souls of those who are still alive in the world. Finally, she gives expression to her storical acceptance of her and fate in the following memorable words—
“No man at all can be living forever, and we must be satisfied.”
Maurya is drawn to be regarded as tragic character in the proper sense of the word. After all we are reading a one-act play in which an elaborated portrayal was not possible. Besides, there is no real conflict either in Maurya’s mind or between Maurya and circumstances. She has just to remain passive because there is no other choice for her. Tess in Thomas Hardy’s famous novel ‘Tess of the D’urbervilles’ is a tragic character because she puts up a brave fight against adverse circumstances, but nobody can fight against the sea which is the cause of the tragedy in Synge’s play. Thus, Maurya is not a tragic character in the real sense. However, her courage and her apirit of endurance in the fare of her misfortunes do lend a certain dignity to her.
The end comes inexorably and this again is traditional. Dunbar’s ‘Lament for the Makerin’s’ may stand to embrace them all. So to quote :
“Since for death remedy it none
Best is that we for death………..
After our death that live may we
Temor mortis conturbate me.”