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 do characters in The Playboy of the Western World mock Shawn?

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Other characters mock Shawn in The Playboy of the Western World by J. M. Synge for two related reasons, one having to do with gender norms and one with religion. On the level of gender norms, men in that culture and period were expected to demonstrate masculinity by hyper-aggressive behaviour -- note the way Christy is admired for claiming to have killed his father. Shawn is portrayed as essentially passive and fearful. Next, although all the characters are Roman Catholic, Shawn is considered excessively religious for a man who is not a priest, and overly subordinated to the opinion of the Church. Thus the other characters mock his passivity and piety.

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