“Riders to the Sea” fulfils most of the conditions that are necessary for a drama. Drama as a unique literary form has several obligatory literary elements such as plot with one or more theme, character, conflict through actions and interaction, and dialogue…
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In fact, Synge’s one act drama has all the essential traits of a drama such as plot, character, conflict, action, dialogue, etc. But a tragic drama or a tragedy, Synge’s work does not fulfill Aristotle’s definition of tragedy. Synge’s one-act tragedy is essentially the tragedy of common man. Therefore though it does not deal with the downfall of a character of noble status, its story holds a serious and tragic theme. Synge’s work imitates the lives of the people of Aran Islands, more universally speaking, the tragedy of the life of seafaring people, through the life of an elderly domestic woman, Maurya. Through Maurya’s actions and dialogue with her daughters, Cathleen and Nora, her son, Bartley, and the Priest, Synge’s audience learns that the heroine is, both directly and indirectly, in conflict with her destiny and the sea. The descriptions of the characters’ actions are simple mimicries of daily activities, such as “Maurya drops Michael's clothes across Bartley's feet, and sprinkles the Holy Water over him”, “Cathleen and Nora kneel at the other end of the table”, etc. Maurya’s helplessness in front of the cruel smile of fate or destiny becomes evident in the following line, in which the audience can see a destitute and lonely woman who, having lost all of her sons except Bartley and male relatives, is failingly attempting to prevent Bartley from going to Connemara because of some unknown fear of losing him in the sea: “He won't go this day with the wind rising from the south and west…for the young priest will stop him surely” (Synge). In this speech of Maurya, the audience is informed for the first time that this lonely and elderly lady is hardly heard off by her youngest son, Bartley. Also the mild conflict between Maurya and her son is revealed indirectly. Later the audience can view Bartley to act in conflict his old mother. When Maurya warns Bartley not to touch the rope, saying, “You'd do right to leave that rope, Bartley, hanging by the boards”, he does not pay heed to her and takes the rope. Later on, Maurya’s conflict with the sea as well as with her destiny is revealed in the drama, as the audience watches her saying: “They're all gone now, and there isn't anything more the sea can do to me” (Riders to the Sea). Also in its remote sense, Aristotle’s concept of music can be applied to Synge’s works. “Riders to the Sea” is fraught with expressions that are all musical, rhythmic and poetic. One from a number of such expressions is as following: “If it wasn't found itself, that wind is raising the sea, and there was a star up against the moon, and it rising in the night…what is the price of a thousand horses against a son where there is one son only?” (Riders to the Sea) This expression is symbolic in the sense that the position of the moon and the star has been used symbolically to refer to something arcane and ominous. Also in this passage, “wind” has been personified as a monstrous living being. Such symbolisms, personifications and style of expression have endowed the drama with some musical qualities. Indeed the plot of Synge’s drama has been developed through the conflicts, (character-character conflict and character-fate) expressed through dialogue and actions-interactions among the characters. But the
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