Justice

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  • What is the pseudonym that Galsworthy took? What kind of aesthetic theory did he believe in?

Ans: Galsworthy took the pseudonym ‘John Sinjohn’. Galsworthy was a representative of the literary tradition, which has regarded the art as an instrument of social debate. He believed that it was the duty of an artist to examine a problem, but not to provide a solution.

  • Justify the significance of the title ‘Justice’.

Ans: John Galsworthy deliberately chose the title Justice in order to satirise the contemporary social and legal systems of the country, which in the name of ‘justice’ forced the helpless individuals like Falder and Ruth to suffer and perish finally in the most inhuman way in a ‘civilised’ society.

  • Justify the sub-title of the drama ‘A tragedy’. Or, Do you think Justice a social tragedy?

Ans: Justice is different from the other tragedies written in Aristotelian formula. There is no conventional hero-villain conflict in the play. The central protagonist Falder is not at all a heroic figure; rather he is of a weak-willed and nervous personality. Again, the place of the villain has been taken by the inhuman social and legal systems, to which the hero becomes a victim.

  • Character of Falder/Falder as a tragic hero.

Ans: In Galsworthy’s Justice the central protagonist, Falder is a weak-willed and nervous person with a good intention of providing relief to a suffering woman. In so doing he commits a crime which leads him to prison and to death. Thus he becomes a pathetic figure rather than a tragic one.

  • Ruth Honeywill

Ans: Ruth is a poor, unimpressive woman married to a brutish drunkard. Her suffering makes her love Falder sincerely. Again, she does all this more for her children than for herself. Like Ruth in the Old Testament she is sad and gloomy figure. All her hopes, however, get shattered at the death of Falder.

  • Who is James How? How and what does he declare about Falder?

Ans: James How is the embodiment of the cruel, inhuman social and legal system. It is not, of course, that he is the villain of the piece. He judges and acts on the prevalent conventional morality that makes him blind to the serious flaws in the systems. He is the owner of the firm in which Falder is a junior clerk. When he comes to know of the crime, he decides to send him to jail.

  • Who is Walter How? What does he decide about Falder?

Ans: Walter How, the son of James How, stands as a foil to his father. Owing to generosity and clear view of events, he judges everything on the human ground and tries his best to dissuade his father from sending Falder to prison. While his father represents conventional morality, Walter How represents the kind of morality Galsworthy wants the social and the legal institutions to go by. When Walter comes to know of the crime committ4ed by Falder, he decides not to send him to jail as it is his first crime.

 

  • The character of Cokeson

Ans: In Galsworthy’s Justice Cokeson, the head clerk of How’s firm, is a good-natured person, but he has his limitations as a member of the lower middleclass. He understands Falder and feels for him, but he cannot go against his employer. Finally, he answers all fittingly at the end when Falder dies.

  • “It is a matter of life and death”.Who says this and to whom and why?

Ans: Tortured by her drunkard husband almost to death, Ruth Honeywell comes to meet Falder for being rescued from him. But in the office, Cokeson tells her that such personal affairs are not entertained. This forces Ruth to entreat him with these words.

  • “Justice is a machine.” Who says this and why?

Ans: Falder’s defence counsel, Mr. Frome introduces the metaphor of machine in order to convey the sense that the legal system operates in such an inhuman way that it makes mockery of the concept of ‘justice’ and destroys the individual completely. The end of the drama, the end of Falder’s life proves his words.

  • “Law is what it is, a majestic edifice sheltering all f us” Who says this, when and why?

Ans: In the course of sentencing Falder to imprisonment, the judge as a protector and agent of the existing legal system asserts that the institution of law is a noble one. It seeks to protect the good citizens from the bad ones, to protect the society. The judge is the spokesman of the conventional concept of ‘justice’ in the contemporary judicial system. Naturally, his opinions and views do not go by human norms.

  • “It must have been temptation of the moment” …A man does not succumb like this.” Who says this? Why does he say so? What do you think of his character from the speech?

Ans: After the detection of Falder’s forgery and his confession, James How decides upon prosecuting Falder. Walter How, his son, pleads for Falder’s case. He opines that Falder, a gentleman, must have been tempted to do this. His words indicate that he is a good-natured youth, who judges everything on the human ground.

  • “The quality of mercy is not strained…” Where does the speaker quote the line from? Why does he do so?

Ans: The speaker, Walter How, quotes the famous line from Portia’s speech in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, where she appeals to Shylock for Antonio’s case. Walter How wants to convey that mercy is a greater virtue and, therefore, greater justice, which makes everyone happy. He tries to convey his father that they should pardon on this virtue.

 

  • Significance of the Mute Scene in Justice.

Ans: The Mute Scene (Act III, scene iii) is very important from the theatrical point of view since through this Galsworthy presents the deep agony of a helpless man, Falder in the solitary confinement. The scene arouses not only our pity and fear, but also our hatred for the system.

  • Significance of the Trial Scene in Justice.

Ans: The Trial Scene in Justice sets the play in motion. The title of the play is directly related to the Trial Scene which concretises the conflict between two abstract forces of antagonism—law versus humanity.

Exercises

1. Would you consider Justice a problem play? Give reasons for your answer.

2. Who stood for Falder’s defence in the court? Comment upon his character.

3. How does the play Justice present women’s problem in the contemporary England?

4. Comment upon the character of the Governor of the prison.

5. How does Galsworthy present the prison as a torturing machine?
What does Cokeson say when Falder dies?

6. Comment upon the language of the prisoners in Justice.
What is the dramatic significance of other prisoners in Justice?

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