In the Christian religion, purgatory is a place where souls of people that cannot go straight to heaven go to get purged because their sins have not been forgiven. Purgatory is the gateway to heaven where souls have to face the rest and purification. If the souls cannot purge up at purgatory, they come back to the earth and roam around in the familiar places as ghost and spirits. They suffer and cause other to suffer. They then take rebirth as lives and continue the good or bad deeds.
“Purgatory” is one act play. The scene of the play is a ruined house and a bare tree in the background. The play opens with the conversation between an old man and a boy. The boy is the old man’s son. They are standing in front of the ruined house. The old man tells the boy the history of the ruined house and the tragedy of a reputed family. The house belonged to the old man’s mother, a lady from aristocratic family. She fell in love with a groom (the old man’s father). She had died at giving birth of a child (the old man in the drama). After her death, the old man’s father began to waste money drinking wine, playing card and on women. He neither educated the old man nor left property to him. One day he burnt down the house being mad drinking wine. The house had a long and glorious history in which the reputed and great people of the nation were born. So the old man stabbed him to death and ran away from the village and worked as a peddler. After several years he came back to his house with his son (the boy).
As he is telling the story of his parents, the old man hears the hoof-beats of his father’s horse and sees his mother’s figure at the window of the ruined house he asks his son to hear the sound and see the figure. The old man believes his mother’s soul is suffering in Purgatory. He believes she constantly repeats the wedding night. However, the boy neither hears sound nor sees any figure. He thinks his father to be mad. Therefore, he tries to run away stealing money from the old man. The old man sees it and grabs it. The boy asks for his right share and insists that it’s his right to get the money and spend it as he wishes. His behavior resembled his grandfather’s habits. The old man realizes that his mother’s soul can never get purged till her criminal generation survives. So to release his mother’s soul from the purgatory the old man stabs the boy to death. He says that if he is left alone, he will be more dangerous than his father. If the boy had been left, he would have married and passed the pollution on. He again hears the sound of hoof-beats and he wishes his mother’s spirit for emancipation and prays with God to appease the misery of the living and the remorse of the dead. There is darkness everywhere but the trees are bright which is the symbol of purified spirit. He did what a man could do for Purgatory of soul.
Thus, the old man tries his best for the purification of his mother’s soul. Here, the ruined house is symbolically the country, Ireland and the old man’s father is the symbol of people of new generation who have lost the sense of nationality. The old man is symbol of patriotism.