The movie “The Playboy of the Western World” provides a glimpse into the social norms, customs, and beliefs of the early 1900s. One of the main social implications presented in the film is the stereotypes of women. For example, Pegeen was initially put off by Christy’s confession of killing his father. However, she began to compliment him on how such a fine gentleman he was, and promised he would find peace being in her spare room. She repeatedly said this and urged him to stay. She was oddly attracted to how ‘masculine’ Christy was and figured he would be a strong protector since he went as far as to kill his own father to end his bad treatment. I believe this is an unfair stereotype because it suggests that women are largely emotional and use little to no logic. She almost immediately looked past his alleged actions and thought of him as an ideal man regardless of his terrifying actions. The film also explores themes of violence in Irish culture. The villagers are initially horrified by Christy’s confession, but they soon become fascinated by his story and view him as a hero for standing up to his father. This point is significant because the villagers’ speech, behavior, and attitudes toward sin and morality were greatly shaped by a deep devotion to Catholicism. This is interesting because it appears that the glorification of violence is so great that it ultimately trumps their religious values, which makes Irish people seem like they admire aggression. Finally, the film highlights the importance of community in Irish culture. The villagers in the film are portrayed as a close-knit group who look out for one another, despite their differences and disagreements. This sense of community is emphasized by the way the villagers rally around Christy, showing the importance of social bonds and connections in Irish society. All in all, this movie provides a fascinating glimpse into Irish culture in the 1900s.
3 Replies to “The Playboy of the Western World Reaction”
I like how you tie religion into questions of authority and the notion that glorified violence is considered more important than religious values. The villagers’ defiance of religion can also be seen in Shawn as a figure whose actions are constantly defined by religion due to a fixation on what Father Reilly would think. The fact that Christy is used as a foil to Shawn, a figure who has committed a sin yet is universally embraced, suggests the villagers are curious about an existence beyond religion. It is ironic too that the villagers mock Shawn yet religion repeatedly impacts their beliefs and behaviour too. Michael admires Christy for murdering Old Mahon yet chastises Christy for not giving Old Mahon a respected burial. Religion is presented as a belief system that one can pick and choose certain elements of, which is interesting given the riots that are sparked following the performance of The Playboy of the Western World.
I agree that this play is a very interesting glimpse into Irish culture and life in the early 1900s. I was most taken by the fact that all the women in the play were obsessed with Christy because of the fact that he killed his father, and how this made him the perfect picture of masculinity. Religion is also frequently mentioned, which shows the importance of Catholicism in Ireland.
I really liked that you pointed out gender role stereotypes in the movie. I think that, in addition to moments of blatant gender norms, the movie contains instances of satire and making fun of those stereotypes. For example, Pegeen’s father gave her the rope with which to tie up Christy at the end of the film because he was too scared to confront him, even though we might assume that that would be his job because as a man he is “strong” and “masculine.” I think that this really shows how the directors were conscious of the gender roles at this time in Ireland, and they incorporate that consciousness into the film through satire.
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