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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Why does the 'playboy' appeal to characters in the play?

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Christy appeals to the characters in the play on several levels. He is phsyically handsome, so he is appealing to the female characters, particularly Pegeen and the Widow Quin. He is from outside the village, so he represents something unusual and somewhat exotic. He is ambitious but also innocent, eager to begin his future but unsure of what he will do. He is romantic, and appears to be sincere with his emotions. When he finally decides to leave at the end of the play to seek his fortune, we see through Pegeen's heartbroken reaction that his departure leaves a void not just for her personally, but on a symbolic level for all of the villagers, when she calls him "the only Playboy of the Western World." He represents a lofty, more worldly version of themselves, that they are not brave enough to explore.

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