What is the relevance of The Playboy of the Western World in present times?

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The best way of answering this question is to think about the themes of this excellent play and to consider if any of them are still relevant to today's society given the fact that society has changed to such a great extent in the intervening years. This will help us...

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The best way of answering this question is to think about the themes of this excellent play and to consider if any of them are still relevant to today's society given the fact that society has changed to such a great extent in the intervening years. This will help us to establish whether this play does have themes that are universal and whether it has a message that applies to us today.

Unfortunately, if we take this approach and examine the theme of social conformity, we can actually see how little the world and the people in it have changed over the years. The vast majority of the characters in this play act according to the norms and customs of society and show a complete inability to make decisions for themselves. Pegeen, when she challenges male authority, is one of the few characters that are able to think outside the restrictive box of society and its strict customs. Shawn Keogh is of course the perfect example of unthinking obedience to the dictates of society. He will not marry Pegeen until he has permission to do so from the Vatican.

We can see this unthinking adherence again in the way that the villagers act towards Christy. At first he is feted as a hero because of his rebellion and his brave deeds, and men come to hear his story and women bear him gifts. Yet when the reality of his background is made known, again the villagers show their inability to think outside of society as they demand he is punished for his crimes as society dictates. People are shown in this play to be little more than robots in the hands of the society and culture of which they are a part. In the same way, we could still argue that this is very true for many humans and societies today and can be evidenced in our reluctance to embrace change, even when it can be for the better.

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