Maurya: Character Analysis in The Play - Riders To The Sea

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      Maurya is an outstanding creation of John Millington Synge, who is the central character and the protagonist of the play Rider To The Sea. Though the play has many characters but the whole story moves around her, telling the tragic tale of her past. Maurya's entire life has been one of the long drown-out suffering, however her extra ordinary courage to endure them in superb.

      Maurya is an prominent character of J.M. Synge, who is the central figure and the heroine of the play Riders to the Sea. This is one act tragedy with only four major characters, the other three; Cathleen, Nora and Bartley can not be equated with Maurya. The whole story moves around her, telling the tragic tale of her past. She wins our appreciation for her endurance and bravery in the most striking phases of the life. Her whole life is a sad story of bereavements and devoid of joys and ecstasies. Due to her amazing capability of with-standing all these ill fortunes, she reaches at the level of real heroine. She is infact a lady of not only words, but also of actions. The climax of the play is a long series of her speech but whatever she says reveals us about her personality which is not dull and passive rather develops with the circumstances.

Maurya is an outstanding creation of John Millington Synge

Maurya as A Mother

      As a mother Maurya is the witness of many deaths in her family and inspite of her extreme uninterrupted suffering her fate in the Almighty never shakes. Maurya passively bears the sufferings made on her by the monstrous and violent sea. She is an unfortunate mother who has earlier lost her husband faced too much complexities and complications in the upbringing of her children, yet from the very beginning we come to realise that Maurya remind praying and caring for her children. Thus Har personal anxieties and sufferings become universalized which intensifies the tragic predicament of the the fisher folk. She can sacrifices her huge treasure for her children and the welfare of her family members. And she makes the point of her children her own.

      In the Supernatural story Rider to the Sea Maurya's entire life has been a continuous series of calamities and one after the other, she has lost her family members when her last hope Bartley decides to go to the sea, then Maurya very clearly understands that at anyhow he will not return. She feels "He is gone now and when the black night is falling I will have no son left me in the world". But Maurya not only shows an extraordinary courage to bears the sufferings but with the passage of time she rises above her personal anxieties and percepts the higher truth of life.

Maurya’s Predicament

      Maurya the witness of eight deaths, preserves the fortitude, is a remarkable character. She is an ill-fated lady who had earlier lost her husband, faced too many complications in the bringing up of children without the help of man in the family. When with great difficulty, she brings up the sons-they must have remained with her which could relieve her from some anxieties but the circumstances are reversed much enough to develop her into an ascetic. As a mother she had various aspirations with the sons, all dashed to the ground. Maurya’s speeches make us feel her agony and grief “In the big world the old people do be leaving things after them for their son and children, but in this place, it is the young men do be leaving things behind for them to be old.” Maurya, the mother of six sons, should have been left with one son, at least, but too much destruction enhances the tragic effect.

Emblem of Maternal Love

      Maurya, as a mother, has a soft corner for all of her children as we come to know from her commentary, “May the Almighty God have mercy on Bartley’s soul, and on Michael’s soul, and on the soul of Sheamess and Patch, and Stephen and Shawn....” It is a long ago, the four sons had drowned, still stimulate her emotions. Her efforts to resist Barkley going to the Mainland, convey us how much she is concerned for him and the excuses made by her, give a realistic touch to the tragedy. Having been separated from the five sons, it is quite natural for a mother, to stop his last son from being caught in the troubles of the sea. Maurya’s following statement has universal appeal, “If it was a hundred horses or a thousand horses you had itself what is the price of a thousand horses against a son.” Maurya’s emotional attachment with Bartley can be evaluated by her intuition of death just before his departure, the words she utters “He gone now....We’ll, not see him again...”

Withdrawal from the Joys of Life

      Maurya is living a life of solitude, even in the company of Bartley, Cathleen and Nora because all the three of them do not make an endeavor to perceive her feelings. She has been living life full of horrors for many years. So the ecstasies of life are not for her, what she has left with, only loneliness and distress. Her youth is baffled at the loss of her husband for she could not enjoy the young age of its brim. With great difficulty, she came out of the situation, presuming that she is endowed with six sons. But how, she is left alone after the death of all of them is a super tragedy. Another point which strikes our mind is her irresponsibility for all of her sufferings and hardships, Comparing Maurya with king Lear we conclude that Maurya has not any flaw in her character which led her towards the catastrophic ending. She is tortured for not of any of her fault. In it we can not say “Character is destiny”, rather we can sum up, “Destiny is Character,” i.e. it is fate which converted Maurya, an ordinary lady, into a woman of divinity, conveying the eternal message from her mouth, “No man at all living forever and we must be satisfied.”

Superstitions, Cause of her Extreme Reverence

      From the very beginning we come to know that Maurya remains praying and caring for her sons till the midnight, leaves the impression that she has some intuitions of the death prevailing her surroundings. These intuitions are caused by the various superstitions and blind faiths of the old lady. We get reference of this in her various speeches and the most illustrious is, “Bartley came first on the red mare, and I tried to say, ‘God speed you”, but something choked the words in my throat.....” When she returns from the spring well, declares Bartley’s death because she had seen the ghost of Michael on the grey pony just behind Bartley sitting on the red mare. It is not that her superstitions are mere blind faiths nothing) to do with the reality. Later we find that her superstitions prove prediction of Bartley’s death.

Devout Celebrity

      Maurya’s God-fearing nature is reveled to us through the words spoken by the priest, “Herself does be saying prayers half through the night.” In spite of being the witness of six processions of the young sons, Maurya does not lose faith in God. Any other person could have become an atheist after having encountered with so much ill-lucks but Maurya does not question the existence of Almighty, even when the young priest’s assumption “the Almighty God won’t, leave her destitute.... with no sori living” suffers and Maurya is deserted by her last son, too. Her final speech marks the expression of her deep faith in God when she says “What more can we want than that.” Her prayers could not reform her fate but extreme patience she has attained must be the outcome of her truthfulness.

Sublimed Maurya

      After Bartley’s death Maurya uplifts from all the torments of the universe and a transformation occurs due to the feeling of isolation and dejection. In the very beginning Maurya is quite panic-struck and a night owl who prays for the safety of her son. But in the end the lady is quite on audacious enough to bear the intolerable loss i.e. the death Bartley even without shedding tears and weeping bitterly. She is afraid as long as, Bartley is alive and she tries her best to alter his destiny but of no use. So, when the dead body of Bartley is taken to the home, she converts into a fearless lady who challenges the sea, “They’re all gone now and there isn’t anything more than the sea can do to me....”

      The final loss is over and now she has reached to the level of deity, bearing the sufferings. She is same as gold becomes pure and bright after coming in contact of fire. Her elevation is praiseworthy and sterling, as she consoles not only herself but also others who have faced the same situations.

      “He have mercy on my soul....on the Soul of every one is left living in the world.” Her acceptance is not pessimistic or submissive instead she is victorious and proves herself protagonist through her following remarks.

      “No man at all can be living forever and we must be satisfied.” Thus we may sum up by quoting the remarks of Daniel Cookery that Maurya is, “so firm set and integral in her nature that in spite of all its victories over her, she is still herself.”


      Thus her entire life becomes as a tragic story of bereavement, which is devoid of joys and ecstatic, we see the protagonist who is a poor window lost her the five sons and husband but it is the same lady who has reached the level of a true heroine, after reconciling with the fate, ultimately after so many deaths and bereavement the mother Maurya achieves the status of a universal suffering mother. The Rider to the Sea as a One Act Play bring fascinating strength of mother nature in the story.

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