Why did J. M. Synge write The Playboy of the Western World?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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To a certain degree, asking why J. M. Synge wrote The Playboy of the Western World presumes that we can somehow have access to his innermost thoughts and motivations; that is not actually possible. We can, however, analyse the external circumstances of the writing and also look at what he says about the play in his preface to it. Synge, at the advice of William Butler Yeats, spent several years living in the Aran Islands and participating in local life in search of authentic Celtic tradition. This play was a response to those years, attempting to portray the culture he encountered. He tries to balance realism, in so far as it looks closely at actual people, with joy and myth. This play was part of a nationalistic movement to rediscover the authentic Irish traditions marginalized by the Protestant Ascendancy.


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