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Discuss the significance of the sea in J M Synge's 'Riders to the Sea.'i need help with...

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cachettehumide | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 2, 2009 at 12:22 AM via web

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Discuss the significance of the sea in J M Synge's 'Riders to the Sea.'

i need help with the question. ive to do a 1000 words on it. if anyone knows any ideal books for the topic i'd be really appreciative.

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parkerlee | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted November 2, 2009 at 2:47 AM (Answer #1)

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The sea is one of those universal symbols which is not decoded by one culture much differently from another as it is a common reference to all. First, it represents the source of life, the primeval origin of all creatures; it is the "womb of the world." Antithetically, by its sheer strength and power of destruction it represents death as well. Thus an everlasting "womb-tomb" cycle takes form, with both life and death forces taking equal part.

This idea comes over very strongly throughout this play. The sea is both the source of substenance for the family and the reason for its destruction, as one by one Maurya's sons give up their lives to the sea. There is first pathos created by the senseless fatality of their deaths, then resignation to the inevitable.

Check out the following references to glean useful information for your research. (Be sure to navigate through the subtopics as well.) You might also want to check out naturalism as a literary tendency, in which the forces of nature are considered destructive and wilfully hostile against man.

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