What is the relevance of The Playboy of the Western World by J. M. Synge to present times?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Playboy of the Western World by J. M. Synge describes the rise and fall of the reputation of Christy, the "playboy" of the title. He is initially admired because he claims to have killed his father, and that admiration is reinforced by his confidence and sporting prowess, both of which impress the villagers, both men and women. He eventually falls into disrepute when it is discovered that he did not kill his father.

In a sense the relevance of the play lies in its critique of the villagers admiration of rebelliousness, sporting process, and violence. These are really not good values, and far less important than moral character. Many contemporary subcultures, such as that of US high schools and hiphop, like the villagers of the Aran Islands, often accord high status to the appearance of "toughness" without actually considering whether this is an admirable characteristic. An example of how the playwright shows us that we should not be led to admire Christy is when he has Christy say:

"... it's great luck and company I've won me in the end of time — two fine women fighting for the likes of me — till I'm thinking this night wasn't I a foolish fellow not to kill my father in the years gone by."

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The Playboy of the Western World

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