The Playboy of the Western World

Conformity and Rebellion in The Playboy of the Western World College

The Playboy of the Western World is a story about conformity and rebellion towards the law. In the play, Shawn Keogh is the ultra-conservative figure who bows towards the law with deference and meekness. At the other extreme, Christy Mahon is the rebellious figure who rebels against the law by posing himself as the perpetuator of patricide and a criminal of the legal system. In the play, the law is portrayed as an oppressive social institution that stifles the expression of a person’s individuality. The law-abiding Shawn is portrayed as an uninspiring figure whose individuality is totally stifled by the law of society, while the rebellious Christy is portrayed as the flamboyant individualist who exudes vigour and individuality by breaking himself free from the law. By unshackling himself from the legal constraints, Christy develops into a supreme individualist who rises above law and society, while the conservative Shawn possesses no individual character by remaining the slave of the legal system. Through the contrast of the these two characters, the play suggests that Ireland could equally achieve its unique individual character by breaking itself free from the oppressive dominance of the British legal system in the manner of...

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