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P. 1
English Prose Notes

English Prose Notes

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Published by Osama Hasan

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Published by: Osama Hasan on Oct 13, 2010
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12/26/2012

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In what way does the play ³Act III of the Silver Box´ criticize the British society?Discuss in detail. (2003)Or³Act III of the Silver Box´ exposes the British system which only punishes the poor?Do you agree? Give reasons.
³Act III of the Silver Box´ is penned down by one of the most popular Englishnovelist and dramatist of the early 20
th
century, John Galsworthy. He was a distinguished author and playwright whose works contain a great deal of criticism of British society. His fiction is concerned principally with English upper middle-class life; his dramas frequently find their themes in this stratum of society, but also often deal, sympathetically, with the economically and socially oppressed and with questions of  social justice. He wrote a number of novels about the Forsytes, a fictional family of theupper middle class. His plays include ³The Man of Property´, ³The Silver Box´,³Strife´ and ³loyalties and escape´. He was awarded Nobel Prize in Literature in 1932.
³Next to religion, let you care be to promote justice´ 
-F
rancis Bacon
The Silver Box boldly criticizes the judicial system of the British society. It bearsthe moral that µmight is right¶ still prevails in the social order, where the blue-collar  people are oppressed by the prosperous and the powerful ones.The play commences with the case of the Livens being brought in the court.Theresa Livens and Maud Livens were two adolescent sisters who had no shelter, as their mother had broken their home and ran off with another man. Their father had lost hiswork and was living in common lodging houses, while the girls were brought on thestreet. But the magistrate was not realizing the seriousness of the situation. He was askingsuch ridiculous questions:
³You say the mother is on the street; what evidence have you of that?´ 
After hearing the testimony of Mr. Livens, the magistrate remanded the case for another week:
³Well, I¶ll remand them for a week. Bring them again today week; if I see no reasonagainst it then, I¶ll make an order.´ 
Moreover the magistrate was reluctant to grant justice and righteousness.
³Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.´ 
-M
artin Luther King
The Livens¶ case was followed by the case of the theft of the Silver Box Mr.Barthwick was a Liberal Member of Parliament and had a huge influence on thecommunity. His son Jack was immoral and self-indulgent. In a feat of drunken mischief,he stole a purse from a woman. In a similar fit of drunken mischief Jones, the husband of the Barthwick¶s charwoman, stole the silver cigarette-box and the purse after helpingJack to enter his father¶s house.Later on when the Silver Box was found missing, Mrs Jones, the charwoman, wasaccused of the theft. When the constable came to arrest her, Jones tried to defend her. Hemugged the police constable and admitted that he had stolen the Silver Box under theheavy influence of whisky. He was rightly defending his wife as she was being taken into
 
custody without any guilt. As a result, he was arrested and carried off to the policestation. Jones justifies his action of assaulting the police officer:
³You put your hands on my wife when I kept telling you I took the thing myself.´ 
Jack Barthwick stole the purse from a lady and Jones stole that purse and a silver boxfrom Jack while both of them were inebriated. While Jack was excused because of havingtoo much champagne, Jones was declared guilty. In the words of the magistrate:
³You give the excuse that you were drunk when you stole the box. I tell you that is noexcuse. If you choose to get drunk and break the law afterwards you must take theconsequences.´ 
Jack and Jones both had committed identical crimes but Jack¶s father was able to hush uphis son¶s crime while the poverty-stricken Jones was punished. Jones had rightly said:
³I have done no more than what he has. I am a poor man. I have got no money and no friends, but he has a lot. He can do what I can¶t.´ 
The verdict given by the court was one month imprisonment with hard labour for Jones,while Jack left the court holding his head high. Jones¶ wife lost her job at Mr.Barthwick¶s home. Moreover Jones had rightly shouted at the Magistrate:
³Call this justice? What about him? He got drunk! He took the purse, but its moneythat got him off.´ 
³A judge who cannot punish, in the end associates himself with thecriminal.´ 
-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
The final verdict of the magistrate clearly signifies that wealth and power are moreinfluential than justice. Even the honourable judge is influenced by the lust of materialistic wealth. Moreover the underprivileged class are always the one who aregrinded in our society.
Q
. Why do we have the feeling that the judgement was unfair at the end of the playin Act III of the Silver Box? (04)
Q
. Why were Jones punished and Jack let off scoot free in the Silver Box? (03)
³Next to religion, let you care be to promote justice´ 
-F
rancis Bacon
The play, Act III of the Silver Box boldly criticizes the judicial system of theBritish society. It bears the moral that µmight is right¶ still prevails in the social order,where the blue-collar people are oppressed by the prosperous and the powerful ones.The play revolves around the theft of the Silver Box. Mr. Barthwick was a LiberalMember of Parliament and had a huge influence on the community. His son Jack wasimmoral and self-indulgent. In a feat of drunken mischief, he stole a purse from a woman.
 
In a similar fit of drunken mischief Jones, the husband of the Barthwick¶s charwoman,stole the silver cigarette-box and the purse after helping Jack to enter his father¶s house.Later on when the Silver Box was found missing, Mrs Jones, the charwoman, wasaccused of the theft. When the constable came to arrest her, Jones tried to defend her. Hemugged the police constable and admitted that he had stolen the Silver Box under theheavy influence of whisky. He was rightly defending his wife as she was being taken intocustody without any guilt. As a result, he was arrested and carried off to the policestation. Jones justifies his action of assaulting the police officer:
³You put your hands on my wife when I kept telling you I took the thing myself.´ 
Jack Barthwick stole the purse from a lady and Jones stole that purse and a silver boxfrom Jack while both of them were inebriated. While Jack was excused because of havingtoo much champagne, Jones was declared guilty. In the words of the magistrate:
³You give the excuse that you were drunk when you stole the box. I tell you that is noexcuse. If you choose to get drunk and break the law afterwards you must take theconsequences.´ 
Jack and Jones both had committed identical crimes but Jack¶s father was able to hush uphis son¶s crime while the poverty-stricken Jones was punished. Jones had rightly said:
³I have done no more than what he has. I am a poor man. I have got no money and no friends, but he has a lot. He can do what I can¶t.´ 
The verdict given by the court was one month imprisonment with hard labour for Jones,while Jack left the court holding his head high. Jones¶ wife lost her job at Mr.Barthwick¶s home. Moreover Jones had rightly shouted at the Magistrate:
³Call this justice? What about him? He got drunk! He took the purse, but its moneythat got him off.´ 
³A judge who cannot punish, in the end associates himself with thecriminal.´ 
-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
The final verdict of the magistrate clearly signifies that wealth and power are moreinfluential than justice. Even the honourable judge is influenced by the lust of materialistic wealth. Moreover the underprivileged class are always the one who aregrinded in our society.
³Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.´ 
-M
artin Luther King

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