Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Christopher (Christy) Mahon
Christopher (Christy) Mahon, the playboy of the Western World. Arriving one evening in a village on the wild coast of County Mayo, cold, tired, and hungry, he captures the imagination of the people when he tells them how he split the skull of his harsh, unimaginative old father with a loy. Timid no longer, the young man outleaps and outruns his competitors during the rigorous village sports. His reputation for bravery is tarnished, however, when his father, with a bandaged head, arrives in town. When the athletic young man attacks his father a second time, he barely escapes hanging. Even Pegeen deserts him. Like the others, she is afraid to get involved in a murder so close to home. Disgusted with the villagers, he is determined to be a playboy somewhere else.
Margaret Flaherty (Pegeen Mike), the wild, sharp-tongued daughter of publican Flaherty. Enraptured by the poetic utterances and valor of young Christy, she resists the blandishments of Shawn Keogh, her cousin whom she is to marry. After hearing of Christy’s brave attack on his father and seeing his prowess on the playing field, she thinks Shawn too cowardly for her taste. She is ready to betray Christy, however, when he attacks his father again.
Widow Quin, a scheming young woman of about thirty. Hearing of the arrival of the brave young stranger, she tries to coax him away...
(The entire section is 593 words.)
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Jimmy is a forty-five-year-old "amorous" villager who flatters Pegeen when he visits the pub. He and his friend Philly represent the voice of the villagers as they respond to Christy's story. Jimmy's praise of his actions helps build Christy's confidence and create his mythic stature in the community.
Michael James Flaherty
A jovial publican, the good-humored Michael James allows his daughter to run the pub with a strong hand. Like the other villagers, Michael James initially regards Christy as a hero, but as soon as the truth is discovered, he is one of the first to call for his hanging.
Pegeen, a young, attractive woman of twenty, runs the pub for her father. Though Pegeen complains bitterly about being left alone at night, her strength of character and quick tongue suggest she is capable of taking good care of herself. At the beginning of the play, Pegeen is engaged to Shawn, whom she is easily able to control. Pegeen's fiery nature emerges in her dealings with her fiancé, her father, and the Widow Quin, her rival for the attentions of the local men and Christy when he arrives.
Although independent and self-confident, Pegeen allows herself to be seduced by Christy's mythology.
Her penchant for romance and her active imagination cause Pegeen to encourage his poetic lovemaking and, as a result, she pledges herself to him. Her...
(The entire section is 1051 words.)