The Playboy of the Western World

by

J. M. Synge

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Michael James Flaherty / Pegeen’s Father Character Analysis

Michael Flaherty is the rotund and jovial owner of the village pub. He is absent from most of the play, attending a wake with his friends Philly O’Cullen and Jimmy Farrell. He is Pegeen Mike’s father and ultimately has authority over who she may marry. Though he is initially in favor her marrying her hapless second cousin, Shawn Keogh, Michael’s admiration of Christy Mahon’s heroic actions makes him change his mind in favor of the newcomer. When it transpires, however, that Christy has not killed his father, Old Mahon, like he says has, Michael leads the villagers in an attempt to either hang Christy or turn him into the law. He does so out of a desire to protect his community from its own unwanted attention from the “peelers” (police), fearful of being “ruined” or hanged himself.

Michael James Flaherty / Pegeen’s Father Quotes in The Playboy of the Western World

The The Playboy of the Western World quotes below are all either spoken by Michael James Flaherty / Pegeen’s Father or refer to Michael James Flaherty / Pegeen’s Father. 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:
Heroism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Thrift Editions edition of The Playboy of the Western World published in 1993.
Act 1 Quotes

PEGEEN (with a sign to the men to be quiet). You’re only saying it. You did nothing at all. A soft lad the like of you wouldn’t slit the windpipe of a screeching sow.

CHRISTY (offended). You’re not speaking the truth.

PEGEEN (in mock rage). Not speaking the truth, is it? Would you have me knock the head of you with the butt of the broom?

CHRISTY (twisting round on her with a sharp cry of horror). Don’t strike me. I killed my poor father, Tuesday was a week, for doing the like of that.

PEGEEN (with blank amazement). Is it killed your father?

CHRISTY (subsiding). With the help of God I did surely, and that the Holy Immaculate Mother may intercede for his soul.

PHILLY (retreating with Jimmy). There’s a daring fellow.

JIMMY. Oh, glory be to God!

MICHAEL (with great respect). That was a hanging crime, mister honey. You should have had good reason for doing the like of that.

Page Number: 10-11
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3 Quotes

MICHAEL. It’s many would be in dread to bring your like into their house for to end them, maybe, with a sudden end; but I’m a decent man of Ireland, and I liefer face the grave untimely and I seeing a score of grandsons growing up little gallant swearers by the name of God, than go peopling my bedside with puny weeds the like of what you’d breed, I’m thinking, out of Shaneen Keogh. (He joins their hands.) A daring fellow is the jewel of the world, and a man did split his father’s middle with a single clout, should have the bravery of ten, so may God and Mary and St. Patrick bless you, and increase you from this mortal day.

Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

CHRISTY. Ten thousand blessings upon all that’s here, for you’ve turned me a likely gaffer in the end of all, the way I’ll go romancing through a romping lifetime from this hour to the dawning of the judgment day.

[He goes out.]

MICHAEL. By the will of God, we’ll have peace now for our drinks. Will you draw the porter, Pegeen?

SHAWN (going up to her). It’s a miracle Father Reilly can wed us in the end of all, and we’ll have none to trouble us when his vicious bite is healed.

PEGEEN (hitting him a box on the ear). Quit my sight. (Putting her shawl over her head and breaking out into wild lamentations.) Oh my grief, I’ve lost him surely. I’ve lost the only Playboy of the Western World.

Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
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Michael James Flaherty / Pegeen’s Father Character Timeline in The Playboy of the Western World

The timeline below shows where the character Michael James Flaherty / Pegeen’s Father appears in The Playboy of the Western World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Authority Theme Icon
...to Shawn Keogh. Shawn enters, “a fat and fair young man,” and asks nervously whether Michael Flaherty, the pub’s owner and Pegeen’s father, is around. (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Authority Theme Icon
Pegeen explains that her father has gone to a wake nearby and expresses her fear at being left alone in... (full context)
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...with “the like of that murderer.” Shawn, trying to sound soothing, says he’s sure that Pegeen’s father will stay with her. (full context)
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Michael, the pub’s owner and Pegeen’s father, comes in. He is a “fat jovial” man and... (full context)
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Michael asks if Shawn is going with him and the others to the wake, but Shawn... (full context)
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Michael suggests that Shawn should stay the night. Shawn protests, fearing what Father Reilly and “the... (full context)
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Shawn tries to dodge past Michael to exit the pub. Michael grabs him by the coat. Shawn, screaming, tells Michael to... (full context)
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Michael holds up Shawn’s coat, saying “there’s the coat of a Christian man.” He tells Pegeen... (full context)
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...the pub: “God save all here!” Christy asks if the “polis” often visit the pub; Michael says that they don’t, relieving Christy. The locals start speculating on why Christy is on... (full context)
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Michael, Jimmy, and Philly continue to eagerly question Christy, wondering if he had “followed after a... (full context)
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The Power of Language Theme Icon
Authority Theme Icon
...father over the head with a loy in a potato field and then buried him. Michael asks where Christy killed him, to which Christy replies vaguely that it was “a distant... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
...that he stays the night. Jimmy is happy that she will be safe and implores Michael that they should head to the wake. As Jimmy, Philly, and Michael leave, Michael asks... (full context)
Act 2
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Authority Theme Icon
...would be odd “living lonesome”; Pegeen points out that she has only ever lived with her father , but she’s not odd. Christy asks her, admiringly, “how would a lovely handsome woman... (full context)
Act 3
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Authority Theme Icon
...heart alone.” They both agree that “miracles” have brought them together. She agrees to tell her father that she wants to wed Christy when he returns from the wake. (full context)
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Michael comes in drunk, supported by Shawn. He heaps praise on Christy but also chastises him... (full context)
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Michael announces to Christy that Father Reilly has given Shawn and Pegeen permission to marry, asking... (full context)
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Michael is horrified that Pegeen wants to marry a father killer. She says it would be... (full context)
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As Shawn continues to try to persuade Pegeen, Christy intervenes aggressively. Michael is afraid of “murder in this place,” and tells Shawn and Christy to go on... (full context)
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Christy appeals to Michael to let him marry Pegeen, asking why he would want a “quaking blackguard” like Shawn... (full context)
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The men come back in. Philly confirms to Michael that Mahon is dead. Michael, fearing that the murder will get him and his community... (full context)
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Michael explains to Christy that hanging him is “an easy and speedy end,” necessary to keep... (full context)
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...have tied up Christy. Christy explains that they’re trying to deliver him to the “peelers.” Michael apologetically explains to Mahon that their actions are necessary to prevent Michael from being ruined... (full context)
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Michael says, “by the will of God, we’ll have peace for our drinks.” He calls Pegeen... (full context)