Barrett H. Every grouping of life and character has its inherent moral; and the business of the dramatist is so to poise the group as to bring that moral poignantly to the light of day. Such is the moral that exhales from plays like King Lear , Hamlet , and Macbeth. Strife is an eminently fair and just arrangement of acts, facts, motives, and opinions, focusing up to "a spire of meaning," bearing upon the struggle between capital and labor. Galsworthy's first care was to set before his audience a clear statement, without taking sides with one party or the other. He mentions in the essay above quoted three courses which are open to the dramatist: 1 to give the public what it wants; 2 to give it what he thinks it ought to have, and 3 "to set before the public no cut-and-dried codes, but the phenomena of life and character, selected and combined, but not distorted, by the dramatist's outlook, set down without fear, favor, or prejudice, leaving the public to draw such poor moral as nature may afford.
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The action takes place on February 7th between the hours of noon and six in the afternoon, close to the Trenartha Tin Plate Works, on the borders of England and Wales, where a strike has been in progress throughout the winter. It is noon. In the Underwoods' dining-room a bright fire is burning. On one side of the fireplace are double-doors leading to the drawing-room, on the other side a door leading to the hall.
In the centre of the room a long dining-table without a cloth is set out as a Board table. His movements are rather slow and feeble, but his eyes are very much alive.
There is a glass of water by his side. TENCH, the Secretary, a short and rather humble, nervous man, with side whiskers, stands helping him.
Between him and the Chairman are two empty chairs. Can I have a screen, Tench? Certainly, Mr. I'm sorry. Oh, that rag!
Give it to Wanklin. Suit his Radical views. They call us monsters, I suppose. The editor of that rubbish ought to be shot. I remember that fellow when he had n't a penny to his name; little snivel of a chap that's made his way by black-guarding everybody who takes a different view to himself.
ENID is tall; she has a small, decided face, and is twenty-eight years old. Is there anything else you want, Father? That hotel— Dreadful! Did you try the whitebait last night? Fried fat! Anthony in the chair, Messrs. Read letters from the Manager dated January 20th, 23d, 25th, 28th, relative to the strike at the Company's Works. Read letters to the Manager of January 21st, 24th, 26th, 29th.
Read letter from Mr. Simon Harness, of the Central Union, asking for an interview with the Board. Simon Harness and the Men's Committee on the spot. Passed twelve transfers, signed and sealed nine certificates and one balance certificate. What's the Union's game, Tench? They have n't made up their split with the men.
What does Harness want this interview for? Hoping we shall come to a compromise, I think, sir; he's having a meeting with the men this afternoon. He's one of those cold-blooded, cool-headed chaps. I distrust them. I don't know that we didn't make a mistake to come down.
What time'll the men be here? Well, if we're not ready, they'll have to wait—won't do them any harm to cool their heels a bit. Well, I hope we're going to settle this business in time for me to catch the 6. I've got to take my wife to Spain to-morrow. They wanted to shoot him.
By George, there was no close season for employers then! He used to go down to his office with a pistol in his pocket. It's this infernal three-cornered duel—the Union, the men, and ourselves. It's my experience that you've always got to, consider the Union, confound them!
If the Union were going to withdraw their support from the men, as they've done, why did they ever allow them to strike at all? Well, I've never understood it! It's beyond me.
They talk of the engineers' and furnace-men's demands being excessive—so they are—but that's not enough to make the Union withdraw their support. What's behind it? Why could n't we have been told that before? The men must have seen they had no chance when the Union gave them up. It's madness. Just our luck, the men finding a fanatical firebrand like Roberts for leader.
I don't like the position we're in; I don't like it; I've said so for a long time. You thought so too, Underwood. Well, they haven't! Here we are, going from bad to worse losing our customers—shares going down! Who'd have supposed the men were going to stick out like this—nobody suggested that. Who wants to surrender? When the men sent Roberts up to the Board in December—then was the time.
We could have got them in then by a little tact. There we are! This strike's been going on now since October, and as far as I can see it may last another six months. Pretty mess we shall be in by then. The only comfort is, the men'll be in a worse! Well, who on earth would have thought they'd have held on like this without support! I defy any one to know them! And what about tin?
Price going up daily. When we do get started we shall have to work off our contracts at the top of the market. It's past a joke. I don't want to go without a dividend for years if the Chairman does. We can't go on playing ducks and drakes with the Company's prosperity. That'll never do. There's no necessity for pushing things so far in the face of all this suffering—it's—it's cruel.
I don't see how we can get over it that to go on like this means starvation to the men's wives and families. Nobody's more sorry for the men than I am, but if they [lashing himself] choose to be such a pig-headed lot, it's nothing to do with us; we've quite enough on our hands to think of ourselves and the shareholders. There's only one sound way of looking at it.
We can't go on ruining ourselves with this strike. To tell the men that we've got nothing for them—— [Grimly. Shouldn't be a bit surprised if that brute Roberts had n't got us down here with the very same idea. I hate a man with a grievance. I always said that at the time. We paid him five hundred and a bonus of two hundred three years later. If that's not enough!
What does he want, for goodness' sake? The man's a rank agitator! Look here, I hate the Unions. But now we've got Harness here let's get him to settle the whole thing. Harness from the Union, waiting, sir. The men are here too, sir. Depends on what you call business, Harness. Why don't you make the men come in? The question with us is whether we shan't begin to support them again.
Support them if you like; we'll put in free labour and have done with it. I'm quite frank with you. We were forced to withhold our support from your men because some of their demands are in excess of current rates.
Strife review – strikingly modern Galsworthy
Strife is a three-act play by the English writer John Galsworthy. It was his third play, and the most successful of the three. Strife was Galsworthy's third play, after The Silver Box , which was successful, and Joy , which failed. He wrote it in a few months in , and sent the manuscript to friends for comment, including Edward Garnett and Joseph Conrad. After being refused by several theatre managers, a successful production in Manchester led to its production in London by Charles Frohman at the Duke of York's Theatre , opening on 9 March for the first of six matinee performances. It was well received, and the play was transferred to the Haymarket Theatre , then to the Adelphi Theatre , for evening performances.
Strife review – striking drama that rages against the iniquities of capital
Against the medley of voices a huge, red-hot slab of steel is attached to chains, hoisted through the air and lowered on to wooden stands. The lighting changes from red to white; the slab is now a table. As union negotiator Harness points out, the interests of these two sides are not the same. The sparks of their clash flame the action.