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Are Nora and Cathleen choric character in Rider to the sea?

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dipika | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 4, 2009 at 12:01 AM via web

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Are Nora and Cathleen choric character in Rider to the sea?

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kc4u | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted July 4, 2009 at 7:57 PM (Answer #1)

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Reminiscent of the chorus in ancient Greek drama, some chracters in the Elizabethan and modern drama do serve choric functions such as observing and commenting upon the course of action and sometimes marginally participating in it.

The two daughters of old Maurya in Synge's tagedy in one act, Riders to the Sea, may be seen as somewhat choric. They observe and comment, wait and see, from their allotted space, as things happen to their household, underscoring the fatal inscrutability of the despotic sea.

Both Cathleen and Nora are young peasant girls cofined to their domestic chores. Cathleen, the elder sister, is a bit more experienced than Nora who serves as a link with the world outside. Nora brings news & views, talks to the priest & Bartley's friends, reports on the sea & the availability of the boat going to the Galway fair. She is immature and looks up to her elder sister for guidance. She keeps reproducing the words of the priest almost verbatim, looks curious, short of understanding her mother's predicament. Cathleen seems more seriously but quietly devoted to her duties at home. She shares Maurya's grief, but doesn't show signs of breaking down even under conditions of severe anxiety and distress. She favours Bartley's decision to venture out on the sea though the old mother does her best to hold her last surviving son back from the clutches of the unrelenting sea.

Both Cathleen and Nora are helpless observers and only marginal participants who do not know how to appease the all-devouring sea, how to stave the catastrophe off. Nora can bring the bundle of clothes from the priest and Cathleen can bake a cake for her brother. The two sisters can together identify the clothes in the bundle to be those of their dead brother, Michael. When in the end everybody mourns the death of Bartley, Cathleen asks the old man to make the coffin and have the cake she had baked for Bartley.

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