Riders to the Sea

Maurya Character Analysis

Maurya, an old woman, is the mother of Bartley, Michael, Cathleen and Nora, and she has weathered the deaths of her husband, her husband’s father, and the rest of her sons. At this point in her life, she is beaten down by grief and hardship. Maurya’s religious faith is a mixture of Catholicism and pagan beliefs indigenous to the Aran islands where she lives. Her Catholic faith seems to be waning, although she still reflexively prays and invokes God throughout the play, and she simultaneously leans on her pagan beliefs to help understand and predict the will of the sea. By the end of the play (after the deaths of Bartley and Michael, her last two sons), Maurya seems undone, seems to give up her Catholic faith, and believes that she will soon pass away as well.

Maurya Quotes in Riders to the Sea

The Riders to the Sea quotes below are all either spoken by Maurya or refer to Maurya. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of Riders to the Sea published in 1993.
Act 1 Quotes

“I won’t stop him,” says he, “but let you not be afraid. Herself does be saying prayers half through the night, and the Almighty God won’t leave her destitute,” says he, “with no son living.”

Related Characters: Nora (speaker), Maurya, Bartley, The Young Priest
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

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It’s a hard thing they’ll be saying below if the body is washed up and there’s no man in it to make the coffin, and I after giving a big price for the finest white boards you’d find in Connemara.

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Michael
Related Symbols: The White Boards
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

If it was a hundred horses, or a thousand horses you had itself, what is the price of a thousand horses against a son where there is one son only?

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Bartley, Michael
Related Symbols: Bartley’s Horses
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

It’s the life of a young man to be going on the sea, and who would listen to an old woman with one thing and she saying it over?

Related Characters: Cathleen (speaker), Maurya, Bartley
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

In the big world the old people do be leaving things after them for their sons and children, but in this place it is the young men do be leaving things behind for them that do be old.

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Michael
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

He went by quickly; and “the blessing of God on you,” says he, and I could say nothing. I looked up then, and I crying, at the gray pony, and there was Michael upon it—with fine clothes on him, and new shoes on his feet.

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Bartley, Michael
Related Symbols: Bartley’s Horses
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

There does be a power of young men floating round in the sea, and what way would they know if it was Michael they had, or another man like him, for when a man is nine days in the sea, and the wind blowing, it’s hard set his own mother would be to say what man was it.

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Michael
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

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It isn’t that I haven’t prayed for you, Bartley, to the Almighty God. It isn’t that I haven’t said prayers in the dark night till you wouldn’t know what I’d be saying; but it’s a great rest I’ll have now, and it’s time surely.

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Bartley
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Michael has a clean burial in the far north, by the grace of the Almighty God. Bartley will have a fine coffin out of the white boards, and a deep grave surely. What more can we want than that? No man at all can be living for ever, and we must be satisfied.

Related Characters: Maurya (speaker), Bartley, Michael
Related Symbols: The White Boards
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Maurya Character Timeline in Riders to the Sea

The timeline below shows where the character Maurya appears in Riders to the Sea. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Age and Gender Theme Icon
...dough and spinning thread when Nora, her younger sister, asks the whereabouts of their mother Maurya. (full context)
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
After Cathleen tells her that Maurya is lying down, Nora presents a bundle that the young priest has given her containing... (full context)
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
Hearing Maurya stirring in the other room, Cathleen hides the bundle in the turf-loft and throws turf... (full context)
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
...for the rope, which Cathleen had hung up to prevent the pig from eating it. Maurya attempts to keep Bartley from taking the rope, as they might need it if Michael’s... (full context)
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
Age and Gender Theme Icon
...horse, he instructs Cathleen on taking care of certain chores once he is gone, though Maurya is skeptical that Cathleen could do either. Maurya questions how she and her daughters will... (full context)
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Age and Gender Theme Icon
Maurya despairingly cries out that she will have no son left her by nightfall, and Cathleen... (full context)
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
Age and Gender Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
With Maurya gone after Bartley, Cathleen and Nora have their chance to look through the bundle. Cutting... (full context)
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Age and Gender Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
Cathleen hears Maurya coming back up the path, and decides that they will not tell her about the... (full context)
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
Maurya tells her daughters that as she tried to say “God speed you” to Bartley, the... (full context)
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
Age and Gender Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
As Maurya, grief-stricken and oblivious to her surroundings, recounts the ways in which her sons, husband, and... (full context)
Spirituality and Mourning Theme Icon
Fate and Mortality Theme Icon
Age and Gender Theme Icon
The Power of the Sea Theme Icon
...have gathered in the cottage begin to keen. As she anoints Bartley with Holy Water, Maurya speaks aloud to herself of how “there isn’t anything more the sea can do to... (full context)