The Playboy of the Western World

by

J. M. Synge

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Widow Quin is a woman of thirty years who acts as a kind of rival to Pegeen Mike. Not much is told about her past, but the audience does find out that she killed her husband and has had to bury her children. She displays a certain lustiness towards Christy Mahon when he arrives, feeling that they have (justified) murder in common. She plays an important role in the play, being the first character to discover that Old Mahon is in fact still alive. She is also crafty, making two deals within the course of the play. The first of these is with Shawn Keogh, who offers farm animals and turf in exchange for her trying to marry Christy and thus remove him as a rival for Pegeen’s affections; this fails. The second deal comes when she agrees to keep Christy’s secret that Old Mahon is still alive in exchange for similar rewards as and when he gets married to Pegeen. As part of this, she tries to convince the locals that Old Mahon is a madman who only thinks Christy is his son because he has heard the story of Christy’s deed. This, of course, fails too, when the villagers come to believe that Old Mahon is who he says he is.

Widow Quin Quotes in The Playboy of the Western World

The The Playboy of the Western World quotes below are all either spoken by Widow Quin or refer to Widow Quin. 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

CHRISTY. […] Well, it’s a clean bed and soft with it, and it’s great luck and company I’ve won me in the end of time— two fine women fighting for the likes of me— till I’m thinking this night wasn’t I a foolish fellow not to kill my father in the years gone by.

Related Characters: Christopher “Christy” Mahon (speaker), Pegeen Mike , Widow Quin
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2 Quotes

CHRISTY (impressively). With that the sun came out between the cloud and the hill, and it shining green in my face. “God have mercy on your soul,” says he, lifting a scythe; “or on your own,” says I, raising the loy.

SUSAN. That’s a grand story.

HONOR. He tells it lovely.

CHRISTY (flattered and confident, waving bone). He gave a drive with the scythe, and I gave a lep to the east. Then I turned around with my back to the north, and I hit a blow on the ridge of his skull, laid him stretched out, and he split to the knob of his gullet.

[He raises the chicken bone to his Adam’s apple.]

GIRLS (together). Well, you’re a marvel! Oh, God bless you! You’re the lad surely!

Related Symbols: The Loy
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

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:

CHRISTY. From this out I’ll have no want of company when all sorts is bringing me their food and clothing (he swaggers to the door, tightening his belt), the way they’d set their eyes upon a gallant orphan cleft his father with one blow to the breeches belt. (He opens door, then staggers back.) Saints of glory! Holy angels from the throne of light!

WIDOW QUIN (going over). What ails you?

CHRISTY. It’s the walking spirit of my murdered da!

Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

MAHON. I’d take a mighty oath you didn’t surely, and wasn’t he the laughing joke of every female woman where four baronies meet, the way the girls would stop their weeding if they seen him coming the road to let a roar at him, and call him the looney of Mahon’s.

Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3 Quotes

WIDOW QUIN (taking men to the right stealthily). Do you know what? That mans raving from his wound to-day, for I met him a while since telling a rambling tale of a tinker had him destroyed. Then he heard of Christy’s deed, and he up and says it was his son had cracked his skull. O isn’t madness a fright, for he’ll go killing someone yet, and he thinking it’s the man has struck him so?

JIMMY (entirely convinced). It’s a fright, surely. I knew a party was kicked in the head by a red mare, and he went killing horses a great while, till he eat the insides of a clock and died after.

PHILLY (with suspicion). Did he see Christy?

Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

MAHON (putting his hands to his ears). What in the name of God do they want roaring below?

WIDOW QUIN (with the shade of a smile). They’re cheering a young lad, the champion Playboy of the Western World.

[More cheering.]

MAHON (going to window). It’d split my heart to hear them, and I with pulses in my brain-pan for a week gone by. Is it racing they are?

JIMMY (looking from door). It is then. They are mounting him for the mule race will be run upon the sands. That’s the playboy on the winkered mule.

MAHON (puzzled). That lad, is it? If you said it was a fool he was, I’d have laid a mighty oath he was the likeness of my wandering son (uneasily, putting his hand to his head).

Related Characters: Widow Quin (speaker), Old Mahon / Christy’s Father (speaker), Jimmy Farrell (speaker), Christopher “Christy” Mahon
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Playboy of the Western World LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Playboy of the Western World PDF

Widow Quin Character Timeline in The Playboy of the Western World

The timeline below shows where the character Widow Quin appears in The Playboy of the Western World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Heroism Theme Icon
...hours of dark, and not take my death with the fear.” Shawn offers to fetch Widow Quin , but Pegeen  doesn’t want to spend time with “the like of that murderer.” Shawn,... (full context)
Authority Theme Icon
There’s a 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... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Widow Quin is intrigued by Christy. She says, “it should have been great and bitter torments did... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Widow Quin again insists on taking with Christy with her, pointing out that it’s “the like of... (full context)
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Widow Quin , annoyed by Pegeen, states that she, as a widow who has also “buried her... (full context)
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The Power of Language Theme Icon
Scornfully, Pegeen insults Widow Quin with rumors about her—including that she “reared a black ram” at her own breast and... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
...insists that he will stay at the pub, as it is his duty as “pot-boy.” Widow Quin suggests that, in that case, she will stay in the pub too. Pegeen forces her... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Authority Theme Icon
With Widow Quin gone, Pegeen insists that she isn’t engaged, and that she wouldn’t marry Shawn “if a... (full context)
Act 2
Heroism Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Widow Quin comes in, having just entered Christy into all of the village’s sports events taking place... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
...with a “blinded eye.” Christy, chewing on a chicken leg under the eager eyes of Widow Quin and the village girls, tells how he refused to wed this widow. His father had... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Sara says that both Christy and Widow Quin are heroes, and that they should get married. She pours them a drink and toasts... (full context)
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Shawn runs in, accompanied by Widow Quin , and tells Pegeen that her sheep are “eating cabbages in Jimmy’s field.” She rushes... (full context)
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Widow Quin also tries to convince Christy, letting slip the rumor that Pegeen intends to marry him.... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Widow Quin makes a deal with Shawn: she will contrive to marry Christy if Shawn will provide... (full context)
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Widow Quin compliments Christy’s appearance as he comes back in: “it’d be a pity surely to have... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Authority Theme Icon
Suddenly, Christy staggers back, thinking he’s seen the “walking spirit” of his father. Widow Quin looks out, seeing only a “tramper.” Old Mahon comes in; Christy hides behind the door.... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Authority Theme Icon
Mahon takes off his hat and shows Widow Quin his bandaged head. She’s impressed with the wound, which Mahon said was done by his... (full context)
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Widow Quin , with one eye on Christy, asks Mahon why his son was “so foolish”—was it... (full context)
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Widow Quin gets rid of Mahon by saying she thinks she’s seen the man he’s looking for... (full context)
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Christy frets about what Pegeen will say when she hears about his father’s visit. Widow Quin thinks she’ll kick him out for being a “little schemer.” Christy rages to himself about... (full context)
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Christy despairs to Widow Quin about the prospect of losing Pegeen’s affection, who he says has “the love-light of the... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Christy and Widow Quin hear people approaching the pub. Widow Quin hurriedly puts her proposition to Christy: that she... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Widow Quin suggests that she and Christy pretend Old Mahon is a “maniac” and not Christy’s father.... (full context)
Act 3
Heroism Theme Icon
Widow Quin comes in, shocked to see Mahon again. She fetches Mahon a drink at his request.... (full context)
The Power of Language Theme Icon
In an effort to demonstrate Mahon’s supposed madness to Philly and Jimmy, Widow Quin asks him how he is feeling. He complains in a maudlin but eloquent manner about... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Widow Quin craftily asks Mahon if his son is “a great hand at racing and lepping and... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
...watch the mule race about to commence on the sands, in which Christy is participating. Widow Quin tries to get him to leave, but Philly settles Mahon on a bench with a... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Authority Theme Icon
...towards the pub, Mahon is astonished to realize that the race-winner is his own son. Widow Quin grabs Mahon and tries to convince him that he’s mad. Mahon’s certainty wavers as he... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
...must be mad on account of his head injury. He decides he’d better leave and Widow Quin shows him out. Philly casts doubt on Widow Quin’s motives and goes after Mahon to... (full context)
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Authority Theme Icon
Just then, Mahon rushes into the pub, followed by the crowd (including Widow Quin ). He runs at Christy and strikes him down. Pegeen drags Mahon off, asking who... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Christy becomes increasingly desperate, realizing that no one will help him—not even Widow Quin . Mahon tries to grab Christy, who tells him to “leave me go.” The crowd... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
Authority Theme Icon
...with the loy. After a great noise and “a yell” outside, Christy comes back in. Widow Quin hurries in too, telling Christy that the crowd is turning against him and he needs... (full context)
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Widow Quin implores Christy to go, saying there are plenty of other girls in the world. Christy... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
...that he will wed Pegeen and be “a proven hero in the end of all.” Widow Quin goes to get a doctor, fearing Christy is going mad. (full context)