Elements of Riders to the Sea Stephanie Keeney ENG 125 Introduction to Literature Nathan Pritts November 5, 2012 The poem Riders to the Sea by John Millington Synge is a story of a grieving mother and wife who fears the loss of her youngest son to the sea. One of the elements through the story is our protagonist Maurya who has lost hope and fears the worst for her son (Clugston, 2010). Foreshadowing is also an element during the story. Another element throughout the story is the foil and dramatic irony.
These elements combine to make a lasting impression throughout the story and set a tone that is dispair and all hope lost without any comic relief. The protagonist Maurya in the story has already lost five sons and her husband to the sea (Smith, 1987). She sets the mood for play as she tries to convince Bartley her youngest not to go out to sea. The protagonist fears that she has already lost Michael her other son which she has no proof of to the sea (Smith, 1987). The sea is the antagonist along with Bartley to Maurya. She battles with them but seems to lose each time.
Without this battle between them the story would lose a very important element that keeps the story flowing and intriguing. Foreshadowing occurs throughout the story and hints towards the death of her son Michael and pending death of Bartley. One example in the story is when “Maurya arranges to purchase the white boards that can be used for Michael’s coffin” (Clugston, 2010). They have no proof of his death but yet she assumes and buys it. It signifies she is well aware of her loss and that he will not return to her either.
Even though the element of foreshadowing prepares the reader for the death, the protagonist refuses to admit defeat just yet. She is battling for that last bit of hope for her sons. The last elements I found interesting was the foil and dramatic irony. The priest in the story played the part of the foil. He tried to show a different approach to what may have occurred to her son. I find that most everyday life that we all have a foil. It sets to provide another idea or thought process on why sometime has occurred. They vary and can be similar but sometimes way n left field too. The dramatic irony on the story is when Bartley assumes he has his mother’s blessing when in fact he does not (Clugston, 2010). Maurya knows in her heart that her last son will also be lost to the sea like the rest. She finally figures out in the end that she is powerless to stop it. She gives in and admits defeat to the sea. The Riders to the Sea is a very sad story and would not be has thought provoking or intense without these elements throughout the story. The sea for most people is a very scary place that can cause great loss or beauty.
The end of the story we realize that Michael did parish in the sea after Bartley departs on his journey (Smith, 1987). The sea or ocean will always be a mysterious place and a place to where adventures can be had. References Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, I Smith, Sid, E. w. (1987, Aug 07). ‘Riders to the sea’ gives new meaning to ‘fringe’. Chicago Tribune (Pre-1997 Fulltext). Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/291048352? accountid=32521