AD's English Literature : Significance of the Mute Scene in John Galsworthy's "Justice"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Significance of the Mute Scene in John Galsworthy's "Justice"



 John Galsworthy’s notes in The Mute Scene is an integral part of the drama, Justice which, not to be read as added material, but to be read as material that comments upon and deconstructs the core theme Justice. 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. It is heart-gripping in its silent force. The whole scene is a pantomime, taking place in Falder's prison cell.


By scrutinizing John Galsworthy’s notes in The Mute Scene in the use of the prison cell, the silent verse, the romantic quest for freedom and the silence of life for his theatre public, we find Galsworthy’s own subversion and questioning of his native land laws and civic cultures. Now let find what happens in The Mute Scene. In fast-falling daylight, Falder, in his stockings, is seen standing motionless, with his head inclined towards the door, listening. He moves a little closer to the door, his stocking feet making no noise.

He stops at the door. He is trying harder and harder to hear something, any little thing that is going on outside. He springs suddenly upright--as if at a sound--and remains perfectly motionless. Then, with a heavy sigh, he moves to his work, and stands looking at it, with his head down; he does a stitch or two, having the air of a man so lost in sadness that each stitch is, as it were, a coming to life. Then, turning abruptly, he begins pacing his cell, moving his head, like an animal pacing its cage. He stops again at the door, listens, and, placing the palms of his hands against it, with his fingers spread out, leans his forehead against the iron.

 Turning from it, presently, he moves slowly back towards the window, tracing his way with his finger along the top line of the distemper that runs round the wall. He stops under the window, and, picking up the lid of one of the tins, peers into it. It has grown very nearly dark. Suddenly the lid falls out of his hand with a clatter--the only sound that has broken the silence--and he stands staring intently at the wall where the stuff of the shirt is hanging rather white in the darkness-he seems to be seeing somebody or something there. There is a sharp tap and click; the cell light behind the glass screen has been turned up. The cell is brightly lighted. Falder is seen gasping for breath.

A sound from far away, as of distant, dull beating on thick metal, is suddenly audible. Falder shrinks back, not able to bear this sudden clamor. But the sounds grow, as though some great tumbrel were rolling towards the cell. And gradually it seems to hypnotize him. He begins creeping inch by inch nearer to the door. The banging sound, traveling from cell to cell, draws closer and closer; Falder's hands are seen moving as if his spirit had already joined in this beating; and the sound swells until it seems to have entered the very cell. He suddenly raises his clenched fists. Panting violently, he flings himself at his door, and beats on it. At last, Falder leaves the prison, a broken ticket-of-leave man, the stamp of the convict upon his brow, the iron of misery in his soul. 
 
The Mute Scene is Justice Galsworthy’s fame and charismatic personality encouraged readers to conflate him with his dramatic characters; his notes emphasized his voice in the creation of his point of view and in the questioning of his own argument in favour of real justice abolishing the diabolic prison law and solitary confinement. Thus, this assessment of existing social system is quite accurate in determining the plight of civil society and particularly the poor.

Ardhendu De

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