Bartley: Character Analysis in Riders To The Sea

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A True Vitalist

      Bartley, the last son of Maurya is a character with a few dialogues only which can give us idea to estimate his personality. Though, this is very important character who remains on the minds of almost all members of the family as well as the spectators remain curious to have a glimpse of him. He has not much of an individuality but rather represents the class of heroic youth which is willing to live the life at its full with all the adventures. All the other male members have gone to the sea. Even then keeping the same attitude he does not shake his aspirations gather become much confident and daring.

Bartley as Rider to the Sea

      Bartley might have been a character of few words, but his role is significant and indispensable. He is the last survivor, with strong determination to lead the same path chosen by his ancestors. It is a matter of dignity for him to attend the Galway fair and to bring a huge amount of money for the family. Now, Bartley, rides the red mare with grey pony behind him. Maurya’s vision of Michael’s ghost on the grey pony, stands for ‘Riders to the Sea’, not expected to come back.

Obstinacy in Bartley

      Bartley, being the last surviving son of Maurya is precious for her who can not bear his departure at any cost. She quotes some unforgettable speeches to divert his path. But Bartley does not pay any attention to her mother and keeps busy making arrangements for the journey and he leaves saying, “I must go now quickly. I’ll ride down on the red mare and the grey pony ill run behind me.....The blessing of God on you.”

      Thus we see that Bartley is quite practical and pigheaded person, not by his nature but as a result of the circumstances. All the cries and excessive unpleasant remarks can not terminate his impulse.

His Cordial Behavior

      Bartley had planned much earlier to go to Mainland even then, does not mention it to his mother as he is aware of her pathetic situation. He enters the house only to give her the hint that he is going on the journey. Maurya comes out with all kinds of excuses, Bartley does not defy keeping busy for the preparations. He is man who has to live an adventurous life to keep his house members happy and comfortable.

Tragedy of Bartley

      If we obligate Bartley for his obstinacy then it would be injustice because what he has decided is due to his fate. Bartley being the only male member of the family can not ignore his responsibilities. Bartley is quite conscious with this fact as his words suggest. “It’s hard set we’ll be from this day with no one in it but one man to work.”

      In fact this play reflects the tragedy of Bartley, who is deeply involved in his business and thinks to bring happiness for the family. He is very sure of his returning as is evident in his declaration, “You’ll see me coming again in two days or in three days or maybe in four days if the wind is bad.” Instead of coming back he vanishes in the vast sea. This is the human tragedy “Man proposes ‘God despises.”

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