The Rising of The Moon by Lady Gregory


Summary of the Play “The Rising of The Moon”

The Rising of The Moon” is a one-act play written by Lady Gregory in about 1904. It was included in her book “Seven Short Plays” (1909).  It was first staged in March 1907 at the Abbey Theatre. The play is obviously a political play about the relationship between England and Ireland as they struggle for independence from English authority. The English have had a long history of dominance over Ireland. Lady Gregory portrays characters caught between duty and patriotism, but who are ultimately unified as Irishmen by the stories, myths, and songs that they share as a nation. The idea of being a citizen of a country trumps feelings of responsibility to a foreign nation.

The play begins with a sergeant and two police officers pasting a notice or placard with the escaped prisoner’s physical information. The sergeant suggests that the warning be posted on the barrel. The barrel is reached through a flight of stairs. This place must be monitored since the escape’s associates may bring a boat there to aid him in escaping to a safe spot. The sergeant notices the poster and wishes he had seen it before escaping from jail. He is well aware that the desired person is no ordinary thief, but rather a major political figure. He is in charge of the overall plans of the Irish nationalist organisation. The sergeant believes he could not have escaped without the assistance of many jailors. Policeman B believes that the £100 reward is insufficient, but he is convinced that any officer who apprehends him will be promoted. The sergeant then states that he would take command of the situation himself because he is convinced that he can apprehend the wanted man himself. However, he bemoans the fact that he has no one to help him. He requires the funds because he has a family. Policeman B claims that if they catch him, the public will abuse them and their personal relationships will suffer as a result. The cops are aware of how popular the escapee is among the Irish. The sergeant, on the other hand, says that they were only doing their job. The police are responsible for maintaining peace and order throughout the country. Those who are down will rise if the officers fail to carry out their responsibilities, and vice versa. He tells the two cops to place the placards in different spots and asks them to return to the docks since he is alone with the moon. Policeman B complains that the government has not dispatched enough cops to the town. They say their goodbyes to the sergeant and leave.

As the sergeant analyses the reward, a dishevelled man appears. The sergeant is completely unaware of who this scruffy man is. He bills himself as an Irish ballad singer from Ennis. He was, however, the Irish nationalist who had fled from prison. He claims to have arrived at the port to sell tunes to the sailors. He went to the assizes to sell songs and is now at the harbour on the same train as the judges. The sergeant then stops the man as he approaches the flight of stairs. In contrast, the man offers to sit on the steps until a sailor buys a ballad. He is aware that they will be arriving late at the ship. He saw them in the nearby town of Cork, being transported down to the harbour on a handcart. He then performs two ballads for the sergeant. When the officer orders him to return, he starts singing a ballad about a rich farmer’s daughter who fell in love with a Scottish soldier. The sergeant is annoyed and orders him to leave. The man looks at the placard and tells the sergeant that he recognises the wanted man. The sergeant now demands that he reveal everything he knows about the escapee.

The shabby man then informs him that he has located the wanted man in County Clare. He informs the sergeant that he is a dangerous man with tough muscles who knows how to handle any weapon. He once used a stone to kill a sergeant from the town of Bally Vaughan. According to the sergeant, he has never heard of anything like this happening before. The man explains that the incident was not featured in the newspapers. There was once an attack on the police barracks in Limerick on a starry night. The man tells the sergeant that a nationalist kidnapped a police officer from the barracks and that he has not been seen or heard from since. It was a nightmare, according to the sergeant. The man continues to tell the storey of the nationalist’s bold efforts. Because he is such a guerrilla, the cops have a difficult time apprehending him. He will be on the sergeant before he realises what is struck him. According to the sergeant, a huge police force should be dispatched there. The man offers to help the sergeant by sitting atop the barrel and viewing the bay from that side. His suggestion is approved by the sergeant. The man is adamant about not sharing the prize.

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While seated on the barrel, the two continue their conversation while keeping an eye on the water.

The man asks for a match to light his pipe, and the sergeant gives him one by lighting his own.

According to the sergeant, being a police officer is a challenging profession. It is a thankless and dangerous job; police officers must face public scrutiny and have no choice but to carry out their bosses’ orders. People have no concept of how married cops feel when dispatched on dangerous assignments. The man then sings a popular Irish folk tune. The sergeant tells him to stop singing the song since it is unsuitable for the situation. The man claimed he wanted to sing it in order to lift his mood. His heart sinks as he imagines the escapee sneaking up on them. The man pretends to be hit by something by touching his heart. The sergeant reminds him that his reward will be in paradise, to which the man responds that life is priceless. Then he starts singing about how outsiders have wronged mother Ireland. The sergeant reminds him that he omitted to mention Mother Ireland’s blood-stained robe. The man is relieved that he recognises such patriotic music. He informs the sergeant that he remembers singing the ballad with his friends when he was younger. He must have sung more songs, such as Shan Bhean Bhoct and Grean on the Cape. Those ballads were probably sung by the nationalist when he was younger. The man praises the sergeant for his patriotism. He advises him that the wanted man may be one of his friends. The sergeant agrees. The man believes that if his friends had told him about a plan to liberate Ireland from foreign domination when he was younger, he would have joined them since he, too, desired freedom for his motherland. The sergeant admits that he had a nationalist streak as a child. Because a mother cannot anticipate what her child will become or who will be who in the end, the guy regards the world as strange. The sergeant agrees with the man’s viewpoint. Who knows what he might have been if he had not become a cop to support his family. He may have been a patriot who escaped from jail and ended up on the barrel like this, while the sought man could have been a sergeant and tracked him down. He could have broken the law, and the wanted man could be defending it. He could have murdered him with a pistol or a stone.

The two men hear the sound of a boat in the water. The man lies and pretends to be deafened.  He claims that the sergeant used to work for the people rather than the law when he was younger. This statement irritates the sergeant, who reacts by saying that he is proud to be an officer. The man believes he should have been a

If he had been a nationalist, he would have supported Ireland. The sergeant arrives and orders the man not to speak in such a manner. He must fulfil his obligations. He begins to sing a patriotic melody when he hears the sound of a boat approaching. The song signalled the arrival of the boatman. If the man does not stop singing, the sergeant threatens him with arrest. The music is repeated by a whistle from below in response to the sought man’s singing. The sergeant attempts to halt the individual and inquires as to his identity. He quickly realises that he is the sought man. As he rips off the man’s cap and wig, the sergeant seizes them. He is sorry he was tricked. The man claims that he is going to arrest him. The two cops’ words can be heard as the man attempts to take a firearm from his pocket. The sergeant is then begged not to betray him.

He hides the wig and hat behind him as the two coworkers approach. He argues that he has not seen anyone and that he does not need their company. He prefers a peaceful environment. He declines policeman B’s offer to leave him a lantern. They tell him that because the night is dark and gloomy, he could need it. A lantern, they say, is a source of consolation. It not only provides light but also warmth. It is like having a fire at home. The sergeant orders them to proceed immediately. As they travel, the person appears from behind the barrel. Before leaving, he informs the sergeant that he wishes to return his hat and wig. The man thanks him as he moves towards the steps. He promises him that he may be able to help him as much as he can. When Ireland gets independent, the small will thrive while the great will perish. As the Moon rises, they will swap places. The Moon Rising is a symbol of Irish freedom. As the man walks away, the sergeant examines the sign and turns to face the audience, wondering if he is a fool to give up the medal.

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Analysis of The Rising of the Moon

The play The Rising of the Moon is about an Irish nationalist leader’s struggle to elude British authorities. He disguises himself as a poor ballad singer and strikes up a discussion with a Sergeant who is on the lookout for him in order to claim a prize of a hundred pounds. Throughout the chat, the leader reminds the Sergeant of his Irish ancestry and the importance of encouraging and supporting the battle for freedom. The Sergeant is divided between two allegiances: one to his work and one to his country. The Sergeant makes his decision as he allows the leader to flee.

The play delves into the struggle between personal and professional identities. It also highlights the trials and problems that the common Irishman suffered under British colonial control. Through songs, myths, stories, and dramas in the Irish language, the play also examines the issue of the Irish Nationalist movement for freedom from British rule and the necessity to strengthen Irish identity.

The play features two main characters who represent opposing philosophies. The Sergeant is the British representation on the island. The ragged guy is a disguised Irish rebel who supports the Nationalist cause. The play’s tension is embedded in the two characters.

The Sergeant signifies the colonial ruler’s authority and strength. It is shown through his tunic and headgear. He is, nevertheless, of Irish descent and thus sympathetic to the cause. Because of his interaction with a wanted criminal, his character undergoes a shift in the play. He is an exceptional man in that he does not act like a cog in the Government machinery, but rather as a thinking man. He has a good imagination and can therefore predict where the criminal will most likely escape. The Sergeant has a grudging appreciation for the convict’s exploits. His relationship with the criminal reminds him of his past, which he spent singing old favourites with his buddies.

The part when he plays out his dilemma is one of the most striking passages in the play. Sergeant. That’s a queer thought now, and a true thought. Wait how till I think it out. If it wasn’t for the sense I have, and for my Wife and family, and for me joining the force the time I did, it might be myself now would be after breaking goal and hiding in the dark, and it might be him that’s hiding in the dark and that got out of goal would be sitting up here where I am on this barrel… And it might be myself would be creeping up trying to make my escape from himself, and it might be himself would be keeping the law, and myself would be breaking it, and myself would be trying to put a bullet in his head or to take up a lump of stone the way you said he did no, that myself did….

His interaction with the criminal causes him to reflect on how his professional affiliations have influenced his attitude and life choices. For the first time, he is shown what options the underprivileged have in their country, as well as the unfairness of the system. The Sergeant has undergone a change. The inmate removes his mask and reveals himself. The Sergeant is caught between his duty to his work and his feelings for a fellow native. The inmate tells him that he, too, was enthusiastic about his country and his people in his youth, rather than the law. The Sergeant recognises that beneath his uniform, he is and always will be an Irishman, and thus permits the convict to flee.

Questions and Answers of the Play

Q. Character Analysis of Ragged Man in “The Rising of the Moon”

The Ragged Man is a fascinating character in Lady Gregory’s one-act play “The Rising of the Moon.” He is a hero-like rebel. He is a wise man, a true leader, a psychotherapist, a true patriot, and a passionate admirer of his country.


The man emerges at the seashore quay in the guise of a poor ballad singer. He can sing songs with the most attractive intensity, touching the heart and spirit of the most passionate police officer. His portrayal of a ballad singer is so convincing that even during his talk, smoking, singing, and sitting back to back on the barrel, the Sergeant is unable to suspect or detect him until he eventually discloses his identity. He tries one trick after another to fool the clever and dedicated Sergeant.


Initially, the Ragged guy sings a love song to satisfy the Sergeant, but he fails to achieve his goal. Then he tries his second tactic to keep the Sergeant in his cerebral grip. He tells a variety of false stories about his remarkable physical strength as well as his heinous crimes. As a result, he is successful in using his wit and knowledge to deceive the loyal Sergeant. He converses and smokes with the Sergeant in a very close and friendly manner. In the spirit of patriotism, the appeal of his gorgeous chats and the magical spell of his patriotic song meet the Sergeant’s hard heart. Finally, he appeals to the Sergeant’s national instincts, and the Sergeant cannot help but change himself into an Irish friend, allowing him to depart safely.

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The Ragged Man is on top of his game from the start of the play. He made friends among the jailors in order to escape the goal; now he makes friends with the Sergeant once more in order to avoid arrest and imprisonment. Thus, he demonstrates that he is indeed a marvel, yet he does not forget the Sergeant’s assistance and association. So, before leaving, he expresses his gratitude to the Sergeant with an empathetic note of optimism, saying that he will surely repay the good deed done to him by the Sergeant when the rules of the day drop down and the ruled come up with the rising of the moon.

Q. Sketch the character of the Sergeant e play “The Rising of the Moon”.

In Lady Gregory’s one-act play “The Rising of the Moon,” the Sergeant is the second most important character. Throughout the play, he remains on stage and has the audience’s attention. He is an intriguing individual from a psychological standpoint.

The Sergeant is an Irishman who took a police officer’s employment and whose duties leads him to go against his own country. He is a family man with a wife and children to support. We discover him in need of money at the start of the play. He is keen to collect the £100 reward for apprehending the Irish revolutionary. But in his youth, all he wanted was for Ireland to be free. However, he is now a devoted police officer for the British government in a faraway country. In the interest of this government, he assists in maintaining ‘law and order.’ He claims that the entire country relies on us to maintain law and order. He is determined to apprehend the rebel commander, even if it means risking his own life.

The Sergeant’s character is undergoing a gradual transformation. As soon as the Ragged Man steps onto the stage, a conflict arises in the police officer’s head. The Sergeant is less brave and intelligent than the Ragged man. The Sergeant’s patriotism is sparked by the Ragged Man’s patriotic songs and speeches. He is reminded of his younger days when his single ambition was to rescue Ireland from foreign domination. He has now divided his allegiance between the British government and his country. As a police officer, it is his responsibility to apprehend a revolutionary. It is also his responsibility as an Irishman to assist Irish patriots. With the cooperation of the two police officers, the Sergeant could not have arrested a rebel leader at the end of the play. Rather than doing so, he actively plans his escape in a boat. As a result, he foregoes his pay and certain promotion.

The Sergeant is far more knowledgeable than the two cops. However, he is not as intelligent as the Ragged guy. The Sergeant is a good-natured man who is a great patriot. He effortlessly transforms from a police officer to a nationalist by the end of the play. “I wonder, now, am I as great a fool as I think I am?” he wondered after assisting the revolutionary leader in escaping and thereby losing a hundred pounds.

He may have been foolish from a worldly standpoint, but he recognises in his heart of hearts that he is no fool, but a tremendous patriot. It is an enormous sacrifice on his part.


Q. Is the title of the play “The Rising of the Moon” justified?

In most cases, a work of art’s title is the most important aspect of its substance. The appropriate title refers to a title that runs concurrently with the theme. It is not an exception in “The Rising of the Moon.” In reality, the title is highly evocative of the play’s subject matter.

The word ‘rising’ has a strong connotation. It alludes to a progression from one stage to the next.

Let us take a quick look at the play’s history. The British government was in charge of Ireland at the time. The British government has been persecuting the Irish people. When the persecution became too much to bear, the people of Ireland raised their voices and organised a national movement. The Irish people intended to defy the British rulers and establish Irish independence.

‘Moon’ is a provocative term as well. The moon’s soothing rays cast on Earth create an environment free of aggravation. The renting of the British rulers tainted the mood in Ireland. With the departure of the British rulers from Irish territory, turmoil will dissipate, and peace will pervade the air of Ireland.

As a result, the phrase “The Rising of the Moon” denotes the end of British persecution. Freedom will supplant slavery, and independence will supplant dependence. As a result, the play’s title is fitting and appropriate, as well as right and justifiable.

More questions in this section will be included very soon.

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