A Study of Satire in Spreading The News Comedy by Lady Augusta Gregory

1. Introduction

The playwright, Lady Augusta Gregory, was born at Roxborough, Ireland in 1859. Spreading the News (1904) which she wrote three years after the end of the Victorian era is one of her famous work.
At first, Lady Gregory wanted to make the drama as a tragedy. Nevertheless, it was comedy, instead of tragedy, which was desired at her theatre at that time. The goal was so the comedy could be put in the same level of the high-poetic work such as The King’s Threshold, The Shadowy Waters, On Baile’s Strandand The Well of The Saints. Lady Gregory did a lot of rewritings in her life: ancient Irish legends, plays, lectures and cooperations. Being in innumerable societies for the social and political betterment of her country, they entitled her to a place of honor. Her comedies may well be compared with the lighter pieces of Molièrefor they are kindly yet satirical, gay yet at times bitter, but always intensely human.

2. Theoretical Framework


2.1. Character and Characterization

From Kennedy and Gioia (2005:91), characters are supposedly people constructing a story. The statement’s considerations can be seen in the Storm novel by George Steward where the character is the wind and in Richard Adams’ Watership Down novel where the characters are the rabbits. Characters are differentiated into flat/static and round/dynamic characters. Kennedy & Gioia (2010:106) state that flat characters are characters who do not change until the end of the story whereas round characters are characters who change significantly in the story. 

Characterization is highly important to be discussed as well when we are discussing characters. In Kennedy and Gioia (2010:106), characterization is the writer’s description of the characters in a story. When we are characterizing a character in a drama, we can use either the brief description that the playwright provides or the line that the character says.

2.2. Plot

Every story must have a plot. As Kennedy and Gioia (2010:13) point out, plot is an organization of all events building the whole story. Plot has several elements which are exposition, conflict, complications, climax and resolution.

2.2.1    Exposition

Exposition is the first element in a plot. As explained in Kennedy and Gioia (2010:14), exposition always starts a story. It introduces the main characters, recalls what has happened before the story starts and aids the readers to understand the story well through information supplied.  

2.2.2.   Conflict

Conflict is the second element in a plot. Kennedy and Gioia (2010:24) write that conflict is the main struggle between two or more forces in a story. Without a conflict, there will be no story for it is the only condition on which a plot can be produced. In general, a conflict occurs when somebody or something hinders the main character(s) from achieving something.

Next, Rector in English 9 – Conflict in Literature slide writes conflict is differentiated into internal and external conflict. Internal conflict occurs when the main character struggles with a force within himself or herself. An example of it is when a character must determine a decision between two options. External conflict happens when the main character struggles with forces outside himself or herself. Some examples of it are when a character struggles with another character or when a character struggles with the surrounding environment.  

2.2.3.   Complication

Complication is the third element in a plot. In a story, there may be only one conflict, but there must be more than one complications. Based on Kennedy & Gioia (2010:24), complication is the development of the conflict between characters or between characters against the situations.

2.2.4.   Climax

Climax is the fourth element in a plot. As Kennedy & Gioia (2010:24) elaborate, climax is the moment with the greatest intensity in a story. It happens mostly by the end of the story.

2.2.5.   Conclusion

Conclusion is the fifth and final element of a plot.Kennedy and Gioia (2010:24) state that conclusion is the end of a plot happening after the climax. Conclusion can also be called resolution or dénouement (meaning the untying of the knot) for it resolves all complications in a story.

2.3.      Comedy

            In Kennedy and Gioia (2010:1141), comedy was at first used to to praise Dionysus, the god of fertility and wine. In dramas, anything making the audience laugh may be broadly defined as comedy. It can be either the entire play or only a part of a play provoked by a comic character or a comic situation.

            In addition, Rush (2005:113) explains that comedy is sometimes similar to tragedy. At the first glance, comedy is relatively-easy to be distincted with tragedy for it is funny and makes us laugh. However, the statement has a broad scope: from outrageous knockdown farces where people chase each other and slam doors to be free from a ticklish jam to comedies of manners where they sit, drink tea and exchange witty remarks. The Divine Comedy by Dante is an example of an unfunny commedy for it talks about a journey through a hell where no laughs will come out. Like tragedy, comedy also presents the playwright’s attitude to the world as well as its genre has taken various forms over the centuries.

2.4.      Satire

                LeBoeuf (2007:2) explains the word “satire” derives from that Latin word satura, found by the Ancient Romans. However, the Roman satura was different from modern satire. Though the saturae of Horace and Juvenal provides social critique and ishumorous in a certain way, they trigger nosocial changesand are too opento qualify as modern satire.

Satire is a powerful art form withthe ability to point out deficiencies in human behaviors and social issues. It can sometimes be absurd or entertaining. Satire is able as well to protect its creator from a culpability of acriticism due to its nature of being implied rather than overtly stated (LeBoeuf :1).

There are three characteristics of satire. One, criticism. Satire is always a critique towards human behavior, vice, or folly to persuade people to see it disdainfully and therefore encourage social changes. Two, irony. Satire employs irony, often humorously, to point out problems related to criticized-behavior.Third, implicitness. Satire does not criticize openly (LeBoeuf:3).

Moreover, from Le Boeuf (2007:21), various styles and tools have been used over the thousands of years during which satire has been generated. Humor is one of the most effective and popular tool. Certain elements of it are almost everywhere in the modern Satire. The effective seriousness has also its part. It isin Adventures of Huck Finn by Mark Twain where the main characters always feel doing wrong by violating rules and values of thesociety whilein fact,they are acting morally.

Satire is getting more and more alive. It has found places in literature, television, internet, comics and cartoons. Because of satire, messages that would be either ignored or punished if openly-declared have reacheda great number of people and madereal differences. Satire may be the most powerful tool that critics have to express themselves to the world (LeBoeuf:2).

2.5.      The Societyin the Victorian Era (The Victorians)

                On http://faculty.unlv.edu, the Victorian era formally beganin 1837 and ended in 1901. It was governed by Queen Victoria. The first thing about the era is that it was very long and changed nearly everything in politics, law, economics and society (Mitchell:xiii).

Murfin on http://faculty.unlv.edu states that the Victorians were generally described to be prudish, hypocritical, stuffy andnarrow-minded. Certainlarge segments of the society were like that, particularly the middle-class societywhich was developping in number and power. Aiming to join the nobles, many of them felt that behaving“properly”, based onthe conventions and values at the time, was crucial.

TheVictorians were disgusted by anything ugly and unpleasant. They ignored the existentialism of such things. Conformity, moral pretension and evasion are the keys of the Victorian hypocrisy (Houghton:146). On https://bu.digication.com, the hypocrisy reflected in Mr Utterson [Dr. Jekyl and Mr Hayde (1896)] concludesthat all the high English society class during the time was hypocritical. They were insincere and ignored everything unpleasant. The lower classes imitated the hypocrisy due to the desire to enter the high society class.  
The Victorians believed in progress and that people could change their lives and rise through selfhelp. They did not believe in one’s natural ability.They viewed success came from experiences and perseverance and necessity, difficulty and poverty as spurs of achievements (Mitchell, pg.262). The Victorians also valued hard work very much. They did not work hard only for richness. Certain familieseven viewed reading as a kind of laziness andstudying should only be done when all of the day’s work had already been done(Mitchell, pg.263-264).

3. Analysis


3.1.      Character and Characterization

            The major characters in the drama are Bartley Fallon, his wife Mary Fallon and Jack Smith. They own the external conflict constructing the whole story. It is when the Fallons realize that they must return Jack Smith’s forgotten-hayfork to its owner.

Mrs. Fallon: […] Look at there, Jack Smith’s hayfork he left after him! He’ll be wanting it. (Calls.) Jack Smith ! Jack Smith!—He’s gone through the crowd—hurry after him, Bartley, he’ll be wanting it.

Bartley: I’ll do that. This is no safe place to be leaving it. […] Gregory, Lady (1915:8)

Mrs Fallon saw that Jack Smith’s hayfork was left forgotten by the owner. Being sure that he would need it later, she tried to call him, but was no longer in his earshot. She then ordered Bartley to return the hayfork who agreed to do so.         

The lines above represent the external conflict which will construct the entire story. It will be continued by various assumptions made up by different persons until the end. The Fallons and Jack Smith are always in the process until the whole plot finishes.  

Bartley Fallon is a static character. He is designed so for he does not undergo any significat changes in the entire story. From the beginning until the end of it, he is described as a pessimistic man.

Mary Fallon is a dynamic character for she undergoes significant changes in the story. At first, she holds firmly to her opinions on the society, including on her husband. At the end, she becomes illogical and narrow-minded like the society.

Jack Smith is a dynamic character as well for he undergoes significant changes in the story. In the beginning, he is a cheerful, optimistic and helpful man, but at the end, he becomes just narrow-minded and illogical like the society.  

            The minor characters in this drama are Shawn Early, Tim Casey, Mrs Tarpey, Mrs Tully, James Ryan, Jo Muldoon the policeman and the magistrate. They are all categorized so for they worsen the conflict with their false assumptions.

            Shawn Early is a static character. He undergoes no significat changes in the story. He is a narrow-minded man doing what the society does. He does not confirm any information and is involved in whatever the society does not want to be involved. Tim Casey is a static character as well. He is too categorized so due to lack of significat changes that he experiences in the story. Having no differences with Shawn Early, he is too a narrow-minded person who never confirms any information that he gets.

Mrs Tarpey is a static character. She is also categorized for she remains the way she is in the entire story. She is a deaf and narrow-minded lady who never confirms any information that she receives, even when it is misheard due to her deft. Mrs Tully is also a static character. She remins the same from the beginning to the end of the story. She is a narrow-minded lady who never confirms any information received and straight-forwardly puts her judgement onto it.

James Ryan is a static character too. He does not change at all in the story. He is a narrow-minded man who never confirms any information that he gets and stays in his comfort zone. The policemand and magistrate are static characters as well. They undergo no necessary changes in the entire plot. Caused by their narrow-mindedness, they worsen one’s case when they are investigating it.

3.2.      Plot

3.2.1.   Exposition

            The outskirts of a fair in a town with many stalls, including an apple’s belonging to the deaf Mrs Tarpey. First, enter a policeman and a magistrate into the fair, chatting about the town followed by James Ryan some minutes later, retreating quickly when he sees both men. After the policeman and magistrate leave, come Bartley Fallon with his wife Mary Fallon chatting with Mrs Tarpey, followed by Jack Smith coming with a hayfork in one of his hand. 

3.2.2.   Conflict

            The conflict in this drama is external. It emerges between the Fallons and Jack Smith with his hayfork. Jack Smith forgets to bring it back along with him while he is leaving. Seeing what is happening, the Fallons feel that the hayfork must be returned to its owner. 

3.2.3.   Complications

            Complications begin to happen when Tim Casey making assumptions from the message that he receives from Mrs Fallon about Bartley Fallon following Jack Smith with Jack Smith’s hayfork. Mrs Tarpey believes in the assumption and tells Tim her own story, triggering him to make a new assumption. After, she leaves to tell Tim’s assumption to James Ryan.    

Tim Casey tells his assumption to Shawn Early and Mrs Tully who believe in it. James Ryan believes in the story from Mrs Tarpey and supposes that is the matter bringing the police and magistrate to the town. Hearing that, Shawn Early is sure that Bartley Fallon must have injured Jack Smith and everyone goesout to the news. 

            Caused by her deft, Mrs Tarpey mishears information about the Smiths and thinks that Jack Smith is dead. She tells it to Tim Casey immediately believing and spreading it to the society. Believing, the crowd also thinks that Bartley Fallon loves Jack Smith’s wife Kitty Keary and wants to marry her in America. Hearing all that, Mrs Fallon rebukes and criticizes the society.

Bartley Fallon returns to the crowd, but soon is interogated by the magistrate and policeman believing in all the false news. Mrs Fallon finally alsobelieves that Bartley intends to marry Mrs Keary in America. Jack Smith, whom the crowd believes to be dead, returns to the crowd and Mrs Fallon tells him everything about Bartley intending to marry his wife. Jack Smith believes in her and tries to find the man wanting to do such thing.

3.2.4.   Climax

            Jack Smith finally knows who the man is. It is Bartley Fallon. He knows it by through the false information given by the society. He then goes crazy towards Bartley by wanting to break his head so badly.

3.2.5.   Resolution

            The whole plot ends by Bartley Fallon and Jack Smith being taken to the scene of murder by the magistrate and policeman. Both will confront Bartley Fallon and Jack Smith with the body of the real Jack Smith. It all happens because the magistrate and policeman misunderstand the whole business.

3.3.      Satire

            This comedy drama was written by the playwright in 1904, a Realism and Naturalism year two or three years after the end of the Victorian era. However, the society in the drama was analyzed to still possess the characteristics of the Victorians. They were hypocrite, narrow-minded and liked giving quick judgments to relationships that they thought to be unusual and scandalous.

Tim Casey: Following Jack Smith with a hayfork! […] Did you hear that news, Mrs Tarpey?

Mrs. Tarpey: I heard no news at all.

Tim Casey: Some dispute I suppose it was that rose between Jack Smith and Bartley Fallon, and it seems Jack made off, and Bartley is following him with a hayfork! Gregory, Lady (1915:9)

Tim Casey was taken aback that Bartley Fallon was following Jack Smith with a hayfork. He was near Mrs Tarpey knowing nothing whatsoever. Telling her, he supposed that it had been a dispute which had arosen between Jack Smith and Bartley Fallon, then Jack Smith made off and at that moment of speaking, Bartley Fallon was following him with a hayfork.

            The lines represent the narrow-minded characteristic of the Victorians and it is reflected in Tim Casey, a member of the society. He does not confirm the information about Bartley Fallon and Jack Smith before spreading it. Moreover, he also uses assumptions while spreading it, proved by the words “suppose” and “seems”.

Tim Casey: Some dispute I suppose it was that rose between Jack Smith and Bartley Fallon, and it seems Jack made off, and Bartley is following him with a hayfork!

Mrs Tarpey: […] Wait till I tell James Ryan that I see below; he is a neighbour of Bartley’s, it would be a pity if he wouldn’t hear the news! Gregory, Lady (1915:9-10)

            Telling Mrs Tarpey, Tim Casey supposed that it had been a dispute that had risen between Jack Smith and Bartley Fallon. He also supposed that Jack Smith had made off and was being followed by Bartley Fallon at the moment of speaking. Hearing all that, Mrs Tarpey could hardly wait to tell the information to James Ryan, Bartley Fallon’s neighbour. It would be a pity for her if he did not hear the information.

            The lines represent the narrow-minded characteristic of the society as well and it is shown by Mrs Tarpey. Like Tim Casey, she does not bother at all to verify the story either. She receives the information, unfilters it, then spreads it to another person.

Mrs. Tarpey: […] when I looked round again, Jack Smith was gone, and Bartley Fallon was gone, and Mrs. Fallon’s basket upset, and all in it strewed upon the ground—[…]

Tim Casey: Listen, Shawn Early! Listen, Mrs. Tully, to the news! Jack Smith and Bartley Fallon had a falling out, and Jack knocked Mrs. Fallon’s basket onto the road, and Bartley made an attack on him with a hayfork, and away with Jack, and Bartley after him. Gregory, Lady (1915:10)

            Mrs Tarpey told Tim Casey that when she looked around again, Jack Smith and Bartley Fallon were gone. She could only see Mrs Fallon’s basket on the ground with its contents scatttered everywhere. Tim Casey then told Shawn Early and Mrs Tully that Jack Smith and Bartley Fallon had a fight. He told them that Jack Smith had dropped Mrs Fallon’s basket, Bartley Fallon attacked him with a hayfork and he was chasing Jack Smith.

            The narrow-minded characteristic is once again shown by Tim Casey. He dislikes seeing things as they are, causing him not to filter all the information that he receives from Mrs Tarpey. Instead, he only processes it with his own assumption, then spreads it to Shawn Early and Mrs Tully.   

Tim Casey: […] Jack Smith and Bartley Fallon had a falling out, and Jack knocked Mrs. Fallon’s basket onto the road, and Bartley made an attack on him with a hayfork, and away with Jack, and Bartley after him.

Shawn Early: […] Well, that’s a queer thing, and Bartley Fallon so quiet a man !

Mrs. Tully: […] I would never think well of a man that would have that sort of a mouldering look. It’s likely he has overtaken Jack by this. Gregory, Lady (1915:10)

            Tim Casey then told Shawn Early and Mrs Tully that Jack Smith and Bartley Fallon had a fight, Jack Smith dropped Mrs Fallon’s basket, Bartley Fallon attacked him with a hayfork and he was chasing Jack Smith at the moment. Shawn Early and Mrs Tully believe in him. Shawn Early said that it was a queer thing that Bartley Fallon did. Mrs Tully said that she would never think well of a man who would have that sort of a mouldering look. It was likely for her that Bartley Fallon had overtaken Jack Smith by it.

            There are two characteristics of the Victorians presented in the lines: narrow-mindedness and tendency of judging quickly. The narrow-mindedness is presented by Tim Casey, Shawn Early and Mrs Tully. They absorb all the information without criticalizing it. The tendency of judging quickly is presented only by Shawn Early and Mrs Tully. They do it for the relation between Bartley Fallon and Jack Smith is unusual and scandalous for them.  

James Ryan: That is great news Mrs. Tarpey was telling me! I suppose that’s what brought the police and the magistrate up this way. […]

Shawn Early: The police after them? Bartley Fallon must have injured Jack so. […]

Mrs. Tully: Why wouldn’t he injure him? There was many a man killed with no more of a weapon than a hayfork. Gregory, Lady (1915:10-11)

            James Ryan showed up in front of Shawn Early and Mrs Tully, saying that the news was great. Next, he supposed that it was the news which had brought the police and magistrate to where they were. Hearing that, Shawn Early believed that Bartley Fallon must have injured Jack Smith so badly. Mrs Tully agreed and said that she had seen many men who were killed with only hayforks as weapons before.

            In the dialogue, the narrow-mindedness and tendency of judging quickly characteristics are still visible clearly. James Ryan, Shawn Early and Mrs Tully present themselves to be narrow-minded. James Ryan immediately believes in Mrs Tarpey and both Shawn Early and Mrs Tully immediately believe in James Ryan. The three of them did no effort at all to confirm the confirmation. However, the tendency of judging quickly is only shown by Shawn Early and Mrs Tully. Shawn Early misunderstands James Ryan’s supposition about the police. James Ryan only supposes that it is the news which has brought the police and magistrate to where they are at the moment, but Shawn Early understands it as the police and magistrate are after Bartley Fallon at the moment, trigerring him and Mrs Tully to judge quickly. Both do so for what is going on between Bartley Fallon and Jack Smith is still unusual and scandalous for them.   

Mrs. Tarpey: Ochone! cold and dead. And myself maybe the last time he was speaking to!

James Ryan: The Lord save us! Is it dead he is?

Tim Casey: Dead surely, and the wife getting provision for the wake.

Shawn Early: Well, now, hadn’t Bartley Fallon great venom in him? Gregory, Lady (1915:13)

            Mrs Tarpey commented about the dead Jack Smith, saying he was cold and dead. She also assumed to be the last person whom he spoke to. Puzzled, James Ryan asked her if Jack was really dead. Tim Casey confirmed that he really was and Jack’s wife was getting provision for the wake. Shawn Early commented on Tim Casey’s statement by asking everybody to agree that Bartley Fallon was a great venom for Jack Smith.

            In the dialogue above, Tim Casey once again presents himself as a narrow-minded character. Previously, he is informed about Bartley Fallon and Jack Smith by the deaf Mrs Tarpey, but still puts no effort to confirm the information. Instead, with his understanding, he tells the information to James Ryan. Shawn Early, on the other hand, presents himself to be a quick-judging character. Similar to Tim Casey, he shows no effort to confirm the information and directly inserts his personal judgement into it.

Mrs. Tarpey: […] The last time I saw them, Jack Smith was standing there, and Bartley Fallon was standing there, quiet and easy, and he listening to “The Red-haired Man’s Wife.”

Mrs. Tully: […] Bartley Fallon was here this morning, listening to red Jack Smith’s wife, Kitty Keary that was! Listening to her and whispering with her! It was she started the fight so! Gregory, Lady (1915:13)

            Mrs Tarpey said to Mrs Tully that the last time she saw Jack Smith and Bartley Fallon was when they were standing not very far from her. Bartley Fallon was standing quietly and easily and listening to The Red-Haired Man’s Wife song. Mrs Tully caught the information as Bartley Fallon was there that morning and listening and whispering with Kitty Keary, Jack Smith’s wife. Furthermore, Mrs Tully was also sure that it was Kitty Keary who started the querrel between Bartley Fallon and Jack Smith.

            The lines above present Mrs Tully as a narrow-minded character having tendency to judge things quickly. First, she misunderstands Mrs Tarpey’s information. Mrs Tarpey just says, “… Bartley Fallon was standing there, quiet and easy, and he listening to “The Red-Haired Man’s Wife.””,but Mrs Tully catches it as “Bartley Fallon was here this morning listening to red Jack Smith’s wife, Kitty Keary that was.” After, she judges quickly the misunderstood information, making the good names of Bartley Fallon and Kitty Keary bad, for it is scandalous for her.  

Mrs. Tully: […] Bartley Fallon was here this morning, listening to red Jack Smith’s wife, Kitty Keary that was! Listening to her and whispering with her! It was she started the fight so!

Shawn Early: She must have followed him from her own house. It is likely some person roused him.

Tim Casey: I never knew, before, Bartley Fallon was great with Jack Smith’s wife. Gregory, Lady (1915:13)

Mrs Tully misunderstood Mrs Tarpey. She thought that Bartley Fallon was there that morning and listening and whispering with Kitty Keary, Jack Smith’s wife. She was also sure that it was Kitty Keary who started the querrel between Bartley Fallon and Jack Smith. Shawn Early said that it was likely somebody had roused Kitty Keary to stalk Bartley Fallon. Tim Casey commented by saying that he had no idea before that Bartley Fallon had, in fact, a liaison with Kitty Keary.

            The lines above present Shawn Early and Tim Casey as narrow-minded characters giving quick judgments. It is clearly seen from the dialogue above that both spare no time trying to confirm the information. Instead, they just take it and judge it quickly the way they want to. By doing so, they have made the good names of Bartley Fallon and Kitty Keary bad in the society. It all happens due to the fact that the information about Bartley Fallon and Kitty Keary is still scandalous for Shawn Early and Tim Casey.

James Ryan: It would be easy for him to marry her if he brought her to America.

Shawn Early: With or without Kitty Keary, believe me it is for America he’s making at this minute. […]

Mrs. Tully: It’s likely Kitty Keary is gone with him, and not minding a sheet or a wake at all. The poor man, to be deserted by his own wife, and the breath hardly gone out yet from his body that is lying bloody in the field! Gregory, Lady (1915:14)

            James Ryan said that it would be easy for Bartley Fallon to marry Kitty Keary in America. Shawn Early supported by saying that with or without Kitty Keary, they must believe that Bartley Fallon was really going to America at that time. Mrs Tully commented that Kitty Keary leaving with him for America was very likely to happen, leaving with minding neither a sheet nor a wake for her husband at all. She then pitied the dead Jack Smith, saying how poor he was, to be deserted by his own wife whilst he was dying at the moment.

            From the lines above, both Shawn Early and Mrs Tully present themselves as narrowminded characters. They two show no effort at all to confirm any information. They only swallow it as it is told, proceed it as they like by spicing it up with assumptions. Worse, they make everyone else believe in them.

Mrs. Fallon: […] I tell you the whole of this town is full of liars and schemers that would hang you up for half a glass of whiskey. (Turning to go.) People they are you wouldn’t believe as much as daylight from without you’d get up to have a look at it yourself. […] Telling lies the whole of the people of this town are; telling lies, telling lies as fast as a dog will trot! Gregory, Lady (1915:16 and 23)

            Mrs Fallon pointed out to the society that the whole was full of liars and schemers who would hang others up only for a half of whiskey. She also said that there were people who would not believe in their mistakes before seeing them themselves. Moreover, Mrs Fallon compared to the habit of lying of the society to a trotting dog due to their similarity.

            Mrs Fallon’s lines above contain the function of satire: criticizing the manners and morals of the society. The society among which she lived was hypocrite. They liked gossiping others’ mistakes, hated seeing bad things and gave instant judgments to something unusual and scandalous. Mrs Fallon can no longer stand all the judgements aimed at her husband by the society. She criticizes them by pointing up all mistakes so they can also see that they are not perfect either.

Mrs. Fallon: Killing Jack Smith indeed! Where are you at all, Bartley, till I bring you out of this? My nice, quiet little man! My decent comrade! He that is as kind and as harmless as an innocent beast of the field! He’ll be doing no harm at all if he’ll shed the blood of some of you after this day’s work. Gregory, Lady (1915:17)

Mrs Fallon could hardly believe if her husband killed Jack Smith. Then, she wondered where Bartley Fallon was, intending to bring him out of all the affair. For her, he was a nice, quiet little man and decent comrade. Mrs Fallon was positive that her husband was as kind and harmless as an innocent beast in the field. Triggered by her anger to the society, she also said that it would not be a harm at all if Bartley Fallon murdered some of the society’s members after that day’s work.

            Due to her narrow-mindedness, Mrs Fallon, too, does not confirm all the information from the society about her husband and Jack Smith. She is so naive. She keeps on thinking that her husband is flawless, exactly a man who will not even hurt a fly and for that, all the information about him murdering Jack Smith makes no sense at all. It is as though she did not want to see Bartley Fallon as a human-being who absolutely has negative sides as well. She dislikes knowing bad things about him.

Bartley Fallon: To be going about with this fork and to find no one to take it, and no place to leave it down, and wanting to be gone out of this—Is that you Shawn Early? (Holds out fork.) It’s well to meet you. […] Will you take it and keep it until such time as Jack Smith—

Shawn Early: (Backing.) I will not take it, Bartley Fallon, I’m very thankful to you! Gregory, Lady (1915:17)

            Bartley Fallon returned to where the society was. He complained about the hayfork, how he had been wandering with it with nobody to take it and nowhere to leave it whereas he actually wanted to be free from the hayfork. Then, seeing Shawn Early, Bartley Fallon held out the fork to him and expected that Shawn Early would keep the hayfork. However, before Bartley Fallon could terminate his request, Shawn Early moved backward and said that he would not take the hayfork from Bartley Fallon.

            In the conversation above, Shawn Early, a member of the society, represents another characteristic of the Victorian society: disliking anything unpleasant. Bartley Fallon has unfortunately become something unpleasant for the society due to all gossips made about him murdering Jack Smith with the hayfork. Hence, Shawn Early was unwilling to keep the hayfork employed in the murder, especially it is the murderer himself requesting him to do so.

Bartley Fallon: (Turning to apple stall.) Look at it now, Mrs. Tarpey, it was here I got it; let me thrust it in under the stall. […]

Mrs. Tarpey: Take your fork out of that! Is it to put trouble on me and destroy me you want? […] Gregory, Lady (1915:17) 

 

Bartley Fallon turned to Mrs Tarpey’s apple stall. He persuaded Mrs Tarpey to keep the hayfork, thus put it under her apple stall. Mrs Tarpey refused to do so. She told Bartley Fallon not to leave the hayfork there. She was also wondering whether Bartley Fallon wanted to put troubles on her or whether he wanted to destroy her by doing so.

            In the dialogue above, Mrs Tarpey, a member of the society, represents the same characteristic of the Victorian society as Shawn Early does. She loathes anything unpleasant as well. Bartley Fallon has unfortunately become something unpleasant for the society due to all gossips made about him murdering Jack Smith with the hayfork. Hence, similar to Shawn Early, Mrs Tarpey was also unwilling to keep the hayfork employed in the murder, especially it is the murderer himself requesting him to do so.

            Bartley: Will you yourself take it, James Ryan? You were always a neighbourly man.

James Ryan: (Backing.) There is many a thing I would do for you, Bartley Fallon, but I won’t do that. Gregory, Lady (1915:18)

Bartley Fallon requested James Ryan to take the hayfork with him. He did so for James Ryan had always been a friendly man for him. Nevertheless, James Ryan was unwilling to do so as well. He moved backward and said to Bartley Fallon that among everything he wanted to do for Bartley Fallon, keeping the hayfork with him was the only one that he did not want to.

Above, James Ryan, a member of the society, represents the similar characteristic of the Victorian society as well as Shawn Early and Mrs Tarpey do: hating anything unpleasant. Bartley Fallon has unfortunately become something unpleasant for the society due to all gossips made about him murdering Jack Smith with the hayfork. Hence, similar to Shawn Early and Mrs Tarpey, James Ryan was also unwilling to keep the hayfork employed in the murder, especially it is the murderer himself requesting him to do so.

Shawn Early: I tell you there is no man will give you any help or any encouragement for this day’s work. […]

Bartley: If no one at all will take it, maybe it’s best to give it up to the police.

Tim Casey: There’d be a welcome for it with them surely! (Laughter) Gregory, Lady (1915:18)

           

Shawn Early told Bartley Fallon that no one would neither help or encourage him for everything that Bartley Fallon had done that day. Bartley Fallon thought that since nobody wanted to take the hayfork, it might be best to give the hayfork to the police. Tim Casey commented on his statement by saying that the police would absolutely welcome Bartley Fallon emerging with the hayfork. Then, he laughed.

Shawn Early and Tim Casey are members of the society with Victorian characteristics inside it. It provokes them to have the characteristics as well. The Victorians did not want to have any connections whatsoever with someone who, they believe, has done something embarrassing or scandalous. They hated having business with anyone and anything unpleasant or ugly. Bartley Fallon’s reputation has gone bad in their eyes due to all gossips believed that he has murdered Jack Smith with the hayfork. It causes Shawn Early to say that no one will neither help nor encourage Bartley Fallon. In addition, the Victorians tended to make fun of anyone and anything bad. The characteristic is presented by Tim Casey laughing and mocking Bartley Fallon by saying that the police will undoubtedly welcome him coming with the hayfork.   

Tim Casey: Look, boys, at the new magistrate, and Jo Muldoon along with him! It’s best for us to quit this.

Shawn Early: That is so. It is best not to be mixed in this business at all.

James Ryan: Bad as he is, I wouldn’t like to be an informer against any man.

(All hurry away except Mrs. Tarpey, who remains behind her stall. […]) Gregory, Lady (1915:19)

 
 

Tim Casey said to the male members of the society that the new magistrate and Jo Muldoon were coming to their way. He asked them to stay out of the business that they were speaking about before. Shawn Early and James Ryan agreed to do what Tim Casey asked them to. Then, they all went away, except Mrs Tarpey who was back behind her apple stall.

The Victorians did not like to see that it was actually themselves who were wrong in something. They also did not like if someone pointed out their mistakes. It is how the society in this comedy was and it can be clearly observed from Tim Casey, Shawn Early and James Ryan as its members. They all went away while the magistrate and policemen were heading to where they were at the moment for they did not want to know if it was actually themselves who were wrong with all their gossips. In addition, they must know how through the authorities at that time could be when conducting an investigation.  

Mrs. Fallon: (Sitting down.) With Jack Smith’s wife! With Kitty Keary!—Ochone, the traitor!

[…]

Bartley: What are you saying, Mary? I tell you—

Mrs. Fallon: Don’t say a word! I won’t listen to any word you’ll say! (Stops her tears.) O, isn’t he the treacherous villain? Ohone go deo! Gregory, Lady (1915:24-25)

            Mrs Fallon sat down and accused her husband Bartley Fallon of being a traitor for having a romantic liaison with Jack Smith’s wife, Kitty Keary. On the contrary, Bartley Fallon himself had no idea to what she was referring to. When he was about to explain, Mrs Fallon refused to hear him. She did not want to hear any words that her husband wanted to say either and kept on judging him as a treacherous villain.

            Once again, the narrow-minded characteristic of the society is shown. It is inside Mrs Fallon. She just believes to all the society says about her husband having a romantic liaison with Kitty Keary, Jack Smith’s wife. She is shocked by the information, but triesnothing to confirm it. When her husband wants to clarify everything, she only refuses to listen to him clarifying and stays strong to her opinion.

Jack Smith: […] What would my wife want bringing Bartley Fallon to America?

Mrs Fallon: To leave yourself, and to get quit of you she wants, Jack Smith, and to bring him away from myself. That’s what the two of them had settled together.

Jack Smith: I’ll break the head of any man that says that! […] Gregory, Lady (1915:27)

            Jack Smith was still not very clear why his wife would bring Bartley Fallon to America with her. Mrs Fallon answered him by saying that his wife wanted to leave Jack Smith as well as separate herself from his husband Bartley Fallon. Mrs Fallon was so sure that it must be that what those two persons had settled together. Jack Smith was full of rage and he showed it by saying that he would break the head of any man who had said such thing.

            In the dialogue above, the narrow-minded characteristic is expressed by both Mrs Fallon and Jack Smith. Mrs Fallon immediately jumps to conclusion with the information that she receives without trying to confirm it with anybody. Jack Smith does similarly to Mrs Fallon as well. He not only does not confirm the information, but straight-forwardly threatens to break any men’s head saying such things. Both of them give their judgments quickly over the information for it contains scandalous relationship for them.  

(Bartley backs in terror. Neighbours hold Jack Smith back.)

Jack Smith: (Trying to free himself.) Let me at him! Isn’t he the pleasant sort of a scarecrow for any woman to be crossing the ocean with! It’s back from the docks of New York he’d be returned (trying to rush at him again), with a lie in his mouth and treachery in his heart, and another man’s wife by his side, and he passing her off as his own! Let me at him can’t you. (Makes another rush, but is held back.) Gregory, Lady (1915:27-28)

            Bartley Fallon stepped backward fearfully. The society got a hold of Jack Smith wanting to have himself at Bartley. While he was being hold, Jack asked the society to agree with him that Bartley is someone handsome that no women would hesitate to go out. Next, Jack was also sure that when Bartley returned from America, Bartley would be a liar, treacherous and have someone else’s wife that he would say to be his own. Jack tried once again to have himself at Bartley, but once again got held back by the society.

            Above, Jack Smith presents himself as a narrow-minded person. Narrow-mindedness is one of the characteristics possessed by the Victorians. Jack is so like it that he no longer cares whether the information about Bartley Fallon intending to marry his wife is right or wrong. He does not try to look for evidences to support the information. All he does is only being mad at Bartley and wanting to hurt him. 

Magistrate (pointing to Jack Smith): Policeman, put the handcuffs on this man. I see it all now. A case of false impersonation, a conspiracy to defeat the ends of justice. […] We must take both these men to the scene of the murder. We must confront them with the body of the real Jack Smith. Gregory, Lady (1915:30)

            The magistrate, addressing himself to the policeman while pointing at Jack Smith, ordered Jack Smith to be handcuffed. He saw what the whole business was all about. For the magistrate, it was a fake impersonation and conspiracy to infract the law. He then asked the policeman to take Bartley and Jack to the murder place to affront them with the body of the real Jack Smith.

            The magistrate’s line above fails his status as an authority. An authority should not make any mistakes in conducting investigations. The magistrate as one of the authority in the comedy, on the other hand, misunderstands the whole business on which he is conducting his investigation. It was neither a fake impersonation nor a conspiracy to infract the law.

Magistrate: We must take both these men to the scene of the murder. We must confront them with the body of the real Jack Smith.

Jack Smith: I’ll break the head of any man that will find my dead body ! Gregory, Lady (1915:30)

         
         The magistrate asked the policeman to take both Bartley Fallon and Jack Smith to the place of the murder. They intended to affront them with the body of the real Jack Smith. Hearing that, Jack Smith reacted by saying that he would break the head of any men who would find his dead body.

                In the dialogue above, the magistrate keeps on showing his disability in conducting an investigation. He intends to take both Bartley Fallon and Jack Smith to the murder spot and affront both with the body of the real Jack Smith because he has misunderstood the whole affair. Furthermore, it can be seen above that Jack Smith shows his unintelligence in emotion. Despite of all facts that he receives about his wife and Bartley Fallon before, he should know that he is not dead as the magistrate says. He is completely alive. In consequence, he should not react in rage just like he does above.

4. Conclusion


The drama was written in 1904, the first or the second Realism or Naturalism year after the end of the Victorian era. Despite of the fact, the society in the drama still had characteristics of the Victorians. They were disreputable in manners and morals, hypocrite and narrow-minded. Based on the playwright’s notes, the drama is a comedy. The drama is furthermore classified as a satiric comedy for it critisizes the manners and morals of the society and the subject matter brought up is light.
Bartley Fallon, Mrs Fallon and Jack Smith are major characters for they ownthe main conflict. It is an external one for it occurs between themselves and Jack Smith with his hayfork. The conflict is afterwards worsened by assumptions and judgments of the minor characters, presented by members of the society, due to their Victorian characteristics. All the assumptions and judgments worsen the reputation of four characters until Mrs Fallon loudly criticsizes the society’s manners and morals, showing them that they are no perfect either.

The drama also shows how easily someone at that time get influenced by an information, occurring to both Mrs Fallon, finally trusting the society that her husband is cheating on her and Jack Smith, trusting the society that his wife intends to escape with Mrs Fallon’s husband. In addition, the drama portrays the Victorians tending to believe in any information without confirming it, even when it concerns their loved ones. If one’s reputation was already bad for them, they tended to see the person with contempt. Finally, there are also authorities portrayed failing in investigating cases, presented by the policeman and magistrate. Despite their statuses as authorities, they were so narrow-minded like the society that they finally worsened the lifes of the people on whom they were conducting the investigation.

5. Bibliography


Clark, Barrett H. 1915. The British and American Drama of Today. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Gregory, Lady. 1915. Seven Short Plays by Lady Gregory. New York, United States: The Knickerbocker Press.   
Houghton, Walter. 2003. Hypocrisy. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert         Louis Stevenson. Pg. 146-149 Print. New York: Katherine Linehan.
Kennedy, X.J. & Gioia, Dana. 2010. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Writing. United States: Pearson, Longman.
LeBoeuf, Megan. 2007. The Power of Ridicule: An Analysis of Satire. United States: University of Rhode Island.
Mitchel, Sally. 2009. Daily Life in Victorian England. London: Greenwood Press.
Rector, Melissa. 2002. English 9 – Conflict in Literature. hpms.hpisd.org/Portals/1/Teachers/Weitman/Conflict.ppt
Rush, David. 2005. A Student Guide to Play Analysis. United States: Southern Illinois University Press.
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