There are indeed a number of important themes in The Playboy Of The Western World, but I’d like to suggest an over-arching theme, one that unifies all the lesser themes into a coherent whole. That theme is the overriding need of oppressed communities for heroes.
In setting forward this thesis, it’s important to understand the historical context in which Playboy is set. By the time the play was written, in the early twentieth century, Ireland had been a part of what eventually became the British Empire for the better part of 800 years. During this period in their history, the Irish people were subjected to systematic cultural, religious and economic oppression by their British masters. Numerous sporadic outbreaks of rebellion and insurrectionary violence took place intermittently but did little to change the colonial power structure.
Christy’s attempted acts of patricide in The Playboy Of The Western World should be seen against this wider historical background. Although patricide is a...
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