The play written by W.B Yeats explores the human relation to the supernatural world. It is written on the belief that the soul of the dead body goes to the purgatory before going to heaven and purgatory is such a place where the soul of the dead body gets cleansed for pardonable sins before going to heaven. In the play, the playwright shows the Christian traditional belief on life after death.
In the play, the souls of the old man’s parents suffer in purgatory as they had committed different crimes when they were in this visible world. His mother didn’t follow the advice of her parents and his father destroyed everything in his life by drinking and spending a lot. Destruction takes place throughout the play. The main theme is the crime of older generation may be repeated by the new generations in an endless cycle of life. It also suggests if the head of the family is bad, the children become the sufferer in this visible world or the polluted blood always passes on the polluted blood. It is about a patricide as the old man kills his father and it is about a homicide as he kills his own son. For the first time, he commits his sin that he had committed many years ago and being worried about purgatory life or to break the tradition of his family, he kills his own son and feels happy.
One night, the old man and the boy were passing through a ruined house. The old man made the boy stop there and asked him to study the house. But the boy didn’t want to stop since he could see only a bare tree. However, he entered the house and commented about it that there were no windows, no floor and no roof. When they were talking in a friendly way, he revealed that it was a house where he was born, where many great people had lived and died. He also informed the boy that the house was owned by his mother and later it was occupied by his father. He told the boy again and again that the spirit of his mother and father were living there.
This present remark makes the son because he knew that he had killed his grandfather. Actually when the old man’s mother died in child bearing, his father spent money by drinking and having relationship with other women. The old man during his childhood wasn’t sent to school for having a good education but was taught by the priest at home. When he was sixteen years old, his father had burnt down the house in a drunken frenzy and he had killed him and had escaped from there. At the same time, the old man heard the hoof-beats of the horse and asked the boy to listen to it but the boy couldn’t hear any sound and mockingly accused his father of madness. The old man remembered/imagined the wedding night of his parents. At that time, the boy tried to seize the bag carried by old man. In the struggle of seizing the bag, all the money was scattered on the ground. While the boy was trying to collect the money, the old man stabbed him to death with a same knife that he killed his father. Then he prayed to god asking to release his mother’s soul from purgatory. He also said that he had killed his son to stop the polluted blood passing on and on, and to stop the violence forever.
Q. What is the old man’s motive in murdering the boy?
>> The old man being a catholic believed that his mother’s soul still suffered in purgatory because of the sins she committed and because of the polluted blood that flows within him and his son. He believes that his mother’s soul will never rest in peace until the cycle of polluted blood flowed in his generations. Moreover, his son trying to seize the money from him convinced him that his son would commit more sins later and pollute the blood even more. Thus, in order to help his mother’s soul rest in peace in heaven and to end the cycle of the sins committed by polluted blood, he killed the boy. Above all, the old man’s motive in murdering the boy was to lessen the sufferings in purgatory after death.
Q. Discuss the kind of relationship between father and son in the play ‘Purgatory’.
>> The play ‘Purgatory’ has shown the effects of the catholic belief on the living of the humans. The father in this play being an orthodox catholic believes that he has a polluted blood passed on by his mother and his son, too, has polluted blood due to him. This makes him believe that his mother’s soul still suffers in purgatory, and blames himself and his own son for his mother’s sufferings. Thus, the father and son have a relation of hatred and desire of revenge. The act in which his son tries to steal money from him makes him realize that his son too has a polluted blood and his son will commit more sins due to the same blood. Thus he kills his son to end the cycle of this polluted blood. Hence, the father and son do not have understandings but hatred and selfishness in their relationship.