Comment on the ending of Riders to the Sea.

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Synge's tragedy in one act, Riders to the Sea, comes to an end with old Maurya's sixth son, Bartley, riding to his death by being drowned in the sea, and his body being carried by men into the fisherwoman's cottage-kitchen.

With the death of her last surviving son, the old Aran mother seems to have undergone a significant change. Now that all the male members of her household are lost in the sea, Maurya senses an ironic and paradoxical victory over the cruel and unrelenting sea: the tyrant-god can cause no more harm to her. Having sacrificed himself in an act of re-enactment of Christ's self-sacrifice, Bartley has, as it were, shown Maurya the road to salvation: conquest of suffering through optimisation of suffering itself, of which Christ has been an archetype.

Maurya now betrays no signs of anxiety, agony or restlessness; she does no more care for the sea, no more bother for saying prayers to the Almighty, no more requires to procure holy water after the festival of Samhain; she not even cares if there is a small amount of wet flour or a stinking fish for their provisions.

The end-note of Synge's play is one of tragic sublimation that transforms the typical old Aran mother into an almost mythical embodiment of universal suffering transcended in acceptance and resignation:

" No man at all can be living for ever, and we must be

satisfied ".

The last words of Maurya may be an echo of Dante's words in Paradiso: " en la sua voluntate, e nostra pace", i.e.' His Will is our peace".