The Weir

by Conor McPherson

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Who are the protagonist and antagonist in Conor McPherson's "The Weir"?

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Though this play, which includes people in a bar telling supernatural stories, does not involve a traditional protagonist or antagonist, the first three men in the bar—Jack, Brendan, and Jim—might be considered the protagonists. They anticipate the arrival of Valerie, a woman arriving in Sligo from Dublin, and they criticize their friend, Finbar, for escorting Valerie (as Finbar is married). When Valerie arrives in the pub, they vie for her attention and establish themselves as local experts, telling Valerie about the "faery" road that goes under the house that she has bought from Finbar.

Jack, Brendan, and Jim establish Valerie as the antagonist, as she is new to town. However, after they tell traditional Irish tales of ghosts and the supernatural, Valerie contributes her own tale about the death of her daughter from drowning. Her sad tale turns the men's attitudes toward her from distrust and sexual tension to sympathy and connection. In this sense, Valerie is the antagonist because she counters the men's banter and traditional ghost stories with a tale of deep emotion and sorrow. In the process, she turns their attitudes from ones that men traditionally have of women (competition) to a deeper human connection. The antagonist in the play could also be considered the force of the supernatural or fate, which controls the characters in each of the stories and is superior to them and their desires. 

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