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The Playboy of the Western World

by J. M. Synge

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

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Social conventions are a significant thematic concern in J. M. Synge's The Playboy of the Western World. One way this can be seen is in the 'herd mentality' of the village. When one person is impressed by Christy, everyone follows, and when the tide begins to turn against him, again, all the village acts in concert. Another set of conventions are gender ones. In the period in which this play was written, men were supposed to be stronger and more economically productive than women, and yet the play challenges those conventions, with the women, especially Pegeen, being more authoritative and focussed than the men. Finally the play shows how the conventions of filial piety and masculine strength and independence work in opposition  to each other.

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