Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer: A Mythic Journey of Wretched Souls
Sohana Manzoor, PhD
Abstract: The devil claiming a human soul is no more an unusual theme in today’s literary world. And yet, when Conor McPherson made his national theater debut in 2006 with The Seafarer, he caused a stir, and the next year he took the Broadways in a similar fashion. During the same time, Clare Wallace noticed that McPherson’s on-stage feat made him popular with the audience and the “scholarly response has been a good deal more sluggish,” even when he employs the quintessentially Irish storytelling tradition, infusing it with modern theater’s “disruption of illusionism” (1). Now a more critically acclaimed playwright, McPherson calls his work “a fable about a struggle for redemption.” What makes Conor McPherson’s Seafarer an impressive feat is the epic or folkloric touch it provides to an otherwise ordinary modern day tale of crazy drunkenness and bawdy activities of some coastal town Irishmen. This paper attempts to read McPherson’s play in the light of the Old English poem The Seafarer translated by Richard Hamer (used by McPherson). It is an exploration of the playwright’s use of the Faustian and Christian elements and fusing them with the age-old Irish spirit of adventure to emphasize and extend a simple story of two brothers, Irish drunkenness, and Christmas magic into a complex tale of philosophical and psychological drama in the modern world.
Keywords: sin, redemption, epic journey, darkness and light, dysfunctional relationships
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Published in 2017