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Playboy of the Western World, The

a play by J. M. Synge, first performed and published in 1907. This involves the impact on a drab, remote Irish village of Christy Mahon, a frightened young man on the run after giving his father what he believes to have been a death-blow with a hoe, and the impact on him of the village's admiration of this supposedly heroic act. Pegeen Mike, daughter of the local publican and fiancée of the cowardly Shawn Keogh, persuades her father to hire him as potboy and proceeds to fall in love with him. The Widow Quin also fêtes him, as do the village girls; and a newly confident Christy triumphs in the local sports. Then Old Mahon, bandaged but not dead, comes in pursuit of his son, who tries a second time to kill him, only to find that the villagers react with disgust to violence they could mythologize in abstract: ‘there's a great difference between a gallous story and a dirty deed’. Pegeen Mike rejects Christy, but he finds he has at last established mastery over his domineering father, who has once again survived the attack; and he leaves the village a changed man, ‘a likely gaffer in the end of all’. Showing as it does Christian savages romanticizing not just murder, but the sin of patricide, the play's first production roused nationalist feelings and provoked serious riots at Dublin's Abbey Theatre.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Ellis’ [Edith Mary Pargeter] ‘Peters Biography to Portrait of Dora (Portrait de Dora)