Riders to the Sea main character Maurya, an old peasant woman, standing on the coast

Riders to the Sea

by J. M. Synge

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What is Maurya's attitude towards the sea in Riders to the Sea?

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In this excellent play it appears that the sea is almost presented as a character in its own right, rather than just being an inanimate object. It is responsible for the deaths of all of Maurya's son, and as such, she clearly has a very strong reaction towards it. Living on such a secluded, small and isolated island, the sea is how her son's earn their living but also it represents constant danger from the strong storms that wreck ships and drown sailors. Thus it is that at the end of the play Maurya makes this following statement:

They're all gone now, and there isn't anything more the sea can do to me... I'll have no call now to be up crying and praying when the wind breaks from the south, and you can hear the surf is in the east, and the surf is in the west, making a great stir with the two noises, and they hitting one on the other.

From the statement "there isn't anything more the sea can do to me," we can infer that the sea is viewed as an enemy or assailant who has taken everything from Maurya. She can know ironically rest easy when others are praying for their husbands and sons, because the sea is unable to do her any more damage. This is a pitiful and moving speech as we are left with an impression of a womam who has been utterly broken by the sea, so much so that she is beyond being wounded by it any more.

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