The Playboy of the Western World

by

J. M. Synge

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Shawn Keogh is Pegeen Mike’s fat and fair second cousin. At the start of the play, he is due to marry her, waiting only on special dispensation from the local priest, Father Reilly, to give permission for the two cousins to wed. He is cowardly and god-fearing, too scared to spend the night alone with Pegeen Mike when she expresses her worry at being left in the pub alone overnight. Feeling threatened by the new arrival, Christy Mahon—who seems to be brave, daring, and attractive—Shawn tries to convince his rival to leave by offering him a ticket on a ferry to America and some of his best clothes. He also tries to bribe Widow Quin to marry Christy to remove the threat to his engagement. His attempts to get rid of Christy ultimately fail, leading Shawn to cooperate with his fellow villagers, who are incensed at the fact Christy’s story of killing his father turns out to be false, in trying to hang the newcomer. When Christy eventually leaves the village, Pegeen makes it clear that she no longer wants to marry Shawn.

Shawn Keogh Quotes in The Playboy of the Western World

The The Playboy of the Western World quotes below are all either spoken by Shawn Keogh or refer to Shawn Keogh. 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. Where now will you meet the like of Daneen Sullivan knocked the eye from a peeler, or Marcus Quin, God rest him, got six months for maiming ewes, and he a great warrant to tell stories of holy Ireland till he’d have the old women shedding down tears about their feet. Where will you find the like of them. I’m saying?

SHAWN (timidly). If you don’t, it’s a good job, maybe; for (with peculiar emphasis on the words) Father Reilly has small conceit to have that kind walking around and talking to the girls.

PEGEEN (impatiently, throwing water from basin out of the door). Stop tormenting me with Father Reilly (imitating his voice) when I’m asking only what way I’ll pass these twelve hours of dark, and not take my death with the fear.

Related Characters: Pegeen Mike (speaker), Shawn Keogh (speaker), Father Reilly
Page Number: 4-5
Explanation and Analysis:

SHAWN (going to her, soothingly). Then I’m thinking himself will stop along with you when he sees you taking on, for it’ll be a long night-time with great darkness, and I’m after feeling a kind of fellow above in the furzy ditch, groaning wicked like a maddening dog, the way it’s good cause you have, maybe, to be fearing now.

PEGEEN (turning on him sharply). What’s that? Is it a man you seen?

SHAWN (retreating). I couldn’t see him at all; but I heard him groaning out, and breaking his heart. It should have been a young man from his words speaking.

PEGEEN (going after him). And you never went near to see was he hurted or what ailed him at all?

SHAWN: I did not, Pegeen Mike. It was a dark, lonesome place to be hearing the like of him.

Related Characters: Pegeen Mike (speaker), Shawn Keogh (speaker)
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2 Quotes

WIDOW QUIN (jeeringly). It’s true all girls are fond of courage and do hate the like of you.

SHAWN (walking about in desperation). Oh, Widow Quin, what’ll I be doing now? I’d inform again him, but he’d burst from Kilmainham and he’d be sure and certain to destroy me. If I wasn’t so God-fearing, I’d near have courage to come behind him and run a pike into his side. Oh, it’s a hard case to be an orphan and not to have your father that you’re used to, and you’d easy kill and make yourself a hero in the sight of all.

Related Characters: Widow Quin (speaker), Shawn Keogh (speaker), Christopher “Christy” Mahon
Page Number: 31
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:
Get the entire The Playboy of the Western World LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Playboy of the Western World PDF

Shawn Keogh Character Timeline in The Playboy of the Western World

The timeline below shows where the character Shawn Keogh 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
...about twenty,” sits writing a list of items she needs for her upcoming wedding to Shawn Keogh. Shawn enters, “a fat and fair young man,” and asks nervously whether Michael Flaherty,... (full context)
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...wake nearby and expresses her fear at being left alone in the pub all night. Shawn tells her that, when the local priest, Father Reilly, grants them permission to wed, she’ll... (full context)
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The Power of Language Theme Icon
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...of holy Ireland till he’d have the old women shedding down tears about their feet.” Shawn says timidly that perhaps it’s for the best that those characters are no longer around—Father... (full context)
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Pegeen is annoyed by Shawn’s constant talk about Father Reilly, asking how she’ll “pass these twelve hours of dark, and... (full context)
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Shawn adds that, on his way to the pub, he heard a man groaning in a... (full context)
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Michael asks if Shawn is going with him and the others to the wake, but Shawn replies that he... (full context)
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Michael suggests that Shawn should stay the night. Shawn protests, fearing what Father Reilly and “the Holy Father and... (full context)
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Shawn tries to dodge past Michael to exit the pub. Michael grabs him by the coat.... (full context)
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Michael holds up Shawn’s coat, saying “there’s the coat of a Christian man.” He tells Pegeen that at least... (full context)
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...his father” would make Pegeen feel safe. Michael offers him the job, promising “good wages.” Shawn tries to protest, but Pegeen shushes him. Christy accepts the job, happy to be “safe... (full context)
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Shawn sheepishly asks Pegeen if she wants him to stay and keep her “from harm.” She... (full context)
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...asks Pegeen if she is single, and she pretends that she is not engaged to Shawn. He then talks more about his life, explaining that his father was bad tempered man.... (full context)
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...knock on the door. Christy is frightened that it’s the peelers, but it’s Widow Quin. Shawn had bumped into her and asked her to come and take Christy to her house.... (full context)
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...if you go romancing with her like,” deliberately letting slip that Pegeen is engaged to Shawn. (full context)
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With Widow Quin gone, Pegeen insists that she isn’t engaged, and that she wouldn’t marry Shawn “if a bishop came walking for to join us here.” She makes up a bed... (full context)
Act 2
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Shawn runs in, accompanied by Widow Quin, and tells Pegeen that her sheep are “eating cabbages... (full context)
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...delight.” As Christy goes into the inner room to admire his new hat and coat, Shawn worries that Christy isn’t going to leave. He’s sure Pegeen will prefer Christy over him,... (full context)
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Widow Quin makes a deal with Shawn: she will contrive to marry Christy if Shawn will provide her with a cow, a... (full context)
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...have your like sailing from Mayo to the Western World.” She makes a sign for Shawn to leave her alone with Christy; he makes his excuses and goes out. Christy boasts... (full context)
Act 3
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Michael comes in drunk, supported by Shawn. He heaps praise on Christy but also chastises him for not giving his father a... (full context)
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Michael announces to Christy that Father Reilly has given Shawn and Pegeen permission to marry, asking if Christy thought that “I’d leave my daughter living... (full context)
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...father killer. She says it would be a “bitter thing” to marry “the like” of Shawn. Michael asks Shawn if he has anything to say; is he not “jealous at all?”... (full context)
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As Shawn continues to try to persuade Pegeen, Christy intervenes aggressively. Michael is afraid of “murder in... (full context)
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...Michael to let him marry Pegeen, asking why he would want a “quaking blackguard” like Shawn in his house at all. Michael considers his family legacy, deciding that he’d rather have... (full context)
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...that the murder will get him and his community in trouble with the law, gives Shawn a rope to try and ensnare Christy so that they can then hang him. He’s... (full context)
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...of some of them before he dies. Christy squirms around on the floor and bites Shawn’s leg. He promises to come back and kill Shawn, thinking himself now on the side... (full context)
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...will of God, we’ll have peace for our drinks.” He calls Pegeen to get them. Shawn goes up to Pegeen and says, “it’s a miracle Father Reilly can wed us in... (full context)