The Playboy of the Western World by J. M. Synge

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Explain some symbolism in The Playboy of the Western World by J. M. Synge.

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Another important symbol is the loy, which is a kind of spade used in Ireland for cultivating potatoes. Ostensibly, it symbolizes the life of poverty and mindless drudgery that characterizes the life of the Irish rural poor. Yet by using a loy to attack and kill his father—as he claims to have done—Christy Mahon briefly transforms it into a symbol of freedom and resistance.

Christy's example shows how it's possible for people in this neck of the woods to take control of their own destinies instead of blindly following the old traditions that keep them in a state of subjection. No wonder the locals are so impressed by Christy; they think he's shown them a different life, a life no longer characterized by backbreaking toil, but one which is romantic and exciting and represents resistance against the old ways.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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While some find many instances of symbolism is Synge's play, from the bed symbolizing the concept of marriage in Mayo to marriage itself symbolizing confinement to Mayo village...

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