The relationship of natural and supernatural elements in J.M Synge's Riders to the Sea.
In large part, the whole play is about reconciling the relationship of the natural to the supernatural. In the dangerous natural environment of the Aran Islands, where the sea is a constant threat to the fishermen’s lives, the inhabitants must reconcile their real-world lives with their beliefs in the “supernatural.” In the real, natural world, a drowned sailor’s body washes up on shore and is identified by his distinct knitted sweater. In the supernatural world, he is delivered to his family by riding a pale horse, a universal symbol for death. The family, which has already lost members to the sea, sees as inevitable this tragedy, because life itself on the Aran Islands is a battle with natural elements. The term “reconcile” indicates this acknowledgment, and gives the play its poignant tone.