Illustration of Christopher Mahon with a noose around his neck and a woman standing in front of him

The Playboy of the Western World

by J. M. Synge

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Explain the theme of rebellion in J. M. Synge's The Playboy of the Western World.

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The rebellion theme in J. M. Synge's The Playboy of the Western World derives from its historical context in which writers and artists in Ireland were caught up in the movement advocating `home rule', or the political independence of Ireland from England. Thus a strong rebellious type of character was admired in certain circles in terms of the need for such strength to stand up to the English, as it were. One thing that made Synge`s play so scandalous is that he shows this archetypical strong rebellious western Irishman not as a brave freedom fighter, but as a braggart who uses his brief moment of self confidence to do well at sports, seduce girls, and bask in unearned admiration, rather than to fight for Irish freedom.

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