Treatment of Nature in J. M. Synge Play's

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Synge: A lover of Nature

      Not a single play of Synge could' be written without the description of nature. Synge’s sensitive mind and receptive heart responded to the nature instinctively, as he observed in The Aran Islands and In Wicklow and West Kerry, where the inhabitants made no distinction between the natural and supernatural and who constantly struggled for existence against the sea and the vagaries of the weather. In The Shadow of the Glen and Riders to the Sea, the role of the nature is much important, whereas in The Tinkers Wedding and The Well of the saints, it is described as a kind comforter; a source of energy, it is present in The Playboy of the Western World whereas Deirdre of the Sorrows, possess it as a chief actor in drama. Synge found the people of the Islands, with an unparalleled capacity to stimulate his imagination and the work was the output of a nature mystic dramatist. Thus the themes taken by Synge is a part of Nature itself.

Nature as a chief actor in Drama

      Synge is an exception, where the drama is blended with nature mysticism. If some dramatists tried to maintain the balance between the two, the output was not much brilliant. From Greeks to the Elizabethans, many writers tried their hand at combining dramatic poetry with nature, it remained quite distinct from the unique style of Synge. For Synge, nature is not only a background or a setting to charm the eyes of the audience but also an actor whose role is essential for the existence of the drama i.e. a chief actor or a protagonist is not else but a nature in Synge’s plays. No matter the nature is sometimes friendly and then cruel at the other moment. Irishmen even today, are very much attached to their rural background and every minute thing on the Island may be it is mountain or sea, has the capacity to arouse their emotions. Even when Synge, visited The Aran Island for the first time, he found in the Islanders a strange love for everything which is within the nature. But, the most striking element was their acceptance of every state of nature, whether it is calm or it is harsh: Synge a man with dramatic mind, could not ignore this feature of the people and he portrayed the two-sided aspect of nature, in his plays.

Man Vs Nature

      Riders to the Sea, in fact, is a one-act drama, depicting the conflict between Man and Nature where nature is too immense and formidable power to cope with. T.R. Henn evaluates the conflict between man and sea, thus. “Riders to the Sea, one of the few effective one-act tragedies in literature is of considerable technical interest, particularly in the light of Synge’s solution to the problem of obtaining sufficient movement within a single act.”

      Sea, in the play, is the main cause of the sufferings and ill-fates of the islanders who are helpless and even admitting the changing moods of the sea can not avoid it, because actually, the destroyer is the Sustainer too, as all their occupation except kelp making is fishing. The victory of the sea over the victims is inevitable as its power is unquestioned. After the complete victory of the Sea we cannot decide the status of the sufferers, for, the following lines of Maurya, make us think that the Sea is defeated every time, it starts with bad intention; “They are all gone now, and there isn’t anything more than 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 another” These brave lines of Maurya, echoes, her victory over the sea is horrible and fatal aspects. Maurya: is indirectly attached by Sea as it embraced all of her sons, leaving her forlorn and hapless. But, the direct victims are the young men, who challenge of the Sea, with much confidence and hardness. ‘It is the life of a young man to be going on the sea.’ “These words of Cathleen, stimulate Bartley, to get full victory over the stone-hearted sea. Moods of the Sea are estimated by most of the characters even then they can’t avoid the disaster, is really tragic as weir as heroic in Miss Fermor words, “Everyone in the play, young and old women as well as men, know the state of the sea, the set of the wind.” Like a real Greek tragedy, man is glorified after losing his existence in Synge’s play as Riders to the Sea.

Behavior in ‘The Well of the Saints’

      Synge gives us the varieties of nature so as to make us assessment how the man responds the all aspects of nature. Mostly, it is the nature, who is giver and the man is the taker and this relationship of giving and take, goes on without any complaints or compliments. It is quite illustrious in The Well of the Saints where the beggars, who are blind, feel the nature through their other senses which are working and are quite happy. After sustaining their sight, they feel miserable at their ugliness again acquire the state of blindness and the warmth of the sun and the scent of the flowers, give them an ecstasy of real worth.

Appearance of Nature in The Playboy of the Western World

      Role of nature is negligible in The Playboy of the Western World. In this play, it is not at all a protagonist or any necessity for the development of the play. Though, the rustic scenes of Mayo; the breathing of sleeping cows, the shore and the wide shallow sands, the river and the stepping stones, give the play a pastoral touch. Men and women in the play are accurate observers of the habits of the nature and respond it in desirable. Synge has of succeeded brilliantly in catching the ‘folk imagination of these fine people 'which is ‘fiery, magnificent, and tender.’ He has claimed that he has written The Playboy directly as a piece of life with the purpose of giving the reality in a comprehensive and natural form....”

‘Deirdre of the Sorrows’ and Nature

      Nature plays its role as a ‘rustic speech and outer beauty’ in Deirdre of the Sorrows. He takes the subject from one of the Irish legends and treated it as if he has experienced the same. His visits to The Aran Islands made him understand the primitive yet aristocratic civilization of ancient Ulster which developed him into an Irish Nature poet. So, in the last play, nature does not come straight forward rather its presence is felt here and there.

Self-governing Nature

      Riders to the Sea, a tragedy of one-act, raises the question of God’s existence. God, who has the power to throw Satan into the hell, remains quiet and does not interfere in the situation where the helpless and unfortunate are oppressed and destroyed. The Young Priest’s belief in God, is totally disrupted, when the end proves quite reversed, what he says earlier, “Almighty God will not leave her destitute, with no son living.” Now, a strange kind of thought which haunts us if God is existed then Nature itself, in the hands of Almighty can not be blamed for any calamity, comes to Maurya representing the mothers of the Island. Secondly, If it is Nature, who is Almighty and God is no more, then, we become atheist and all the prayers and bagging does not change the destiny, echoes the play.

      It would be wrong estimation of Synge if we think that Synge has depicted sea is all power and God’s presence is negligible and equally naive to suggest that he endorses the young priest’s optimism which is surely proved wrong. Sometimes Synge’s own aestheticism must have compelled him to give that touch of disbelief in God, but the last line of Maurya satisfies us: “What more can we want than that? No man at all can be living forever, and we must be satisfied.” The words conclude that what nature has provided us with; fair or unfair, evil or good, tears or ecstasies, must be, accepted without any question.

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