The Playboy of the Western World: A Carnivalesque Reading
Sammanfattning: A carnivalesque reading of J. M. Synge’s The Playboy of the WesternWorld is presented. Mikhail Bakhtin defines carnivalesque as a literary style thatchallenges authority and traditional social hierarchy through the use of humour andchaos, and he compares the carnivalesque in literature to the carnivals of popularculture. Several carnivalesque tropes apparent in The Playboy—inversion,subversion, grotesque imagery and ambivalent laughter—are examined, and aspecific focus is placed on carnivalesque tropes in the language of the play andcarnivalesque aspects in the action. Bakhtin’s framework of the carnivalesque, withboth its life-affirming and death-embracing aspects and its notable focus on theinversion of opposites, is utilised to provide a fruitful, and as yet little explored,avenue to understanding Synge’s play. Such a carnivalesque framework positionsthis Irish play within the time-honoured tradition of European grotesque humour andprovides a contrast to more traditional analyses.
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