Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The People's Lawyer, Scene 3; The Poor of New York, Act I and Act 5 scene 1 --

    How.     John Ellsley, take the stand again,-(He does so with evident unwillingness.) Though the law may shield a villain, with its broad hand of power, in honest hands 'tis an engine the evil-doer dreads,-John Ellsley, you are under oath, a solemn oath, and upon the words spoken by you-under the penalty of broken oaths rests the fate of one who was your companion-your friend-I charge you, sir, sir, with uttering what is untrue, and advise you to recall the dark deed which you have committed.
   Tri.       Is this brow-beating a witness-this sermonizing to be allowed?
   How.    Speak not, sir-by courtesy-by right-the witness is mine, I will use him till he speaks the truth. Look at me, sir-knowest thou not the eye of the eternal Judge is on you, that he has this day, with his pen of fire, written perjury, against thy soul.

Winslow and Tripper in anxious conversation, Ellsley attempts to do as Winslow directs.

   How.    Look not there-if you dare not meet my eye, look at your victim-tell me how you will feel to see his youthful form wasting away in the wall's of a State Prison, his friends weeping over him as one dead, worse than dead, disagreed-and by thy false words-John Ellsley, ere it be too late, confess.
   Ell.       I will confess the truth-all I have uttered is false-I placed the watch in his pocket-for me he wrote the confession. I would have ruined my friend for paltry money!-Mr. Winslow knew it all.
   Win.     'Tis false-I knew nothing of it.
   How.    Hugh Winslow, silence-a day of judgement will come for you-I claim a verdict of acquital for Charles Otis.

We chose this passage from The People's Lawyer because it displays a classic melodramatic struggle, and how justice inevitably prevails. This short play, to summarize, is about how an uneducated farmer, a Country Teamster, Solon Shingle, who is on trial for being accused of stealing a watch, Mr. Winslow, the "People's Lawyer," proves his innocence. This passage is the whole defense of Mr. Winslow. The defendant can be seen as the oppressed working class, and the lawyer is that inevitable force that draws him to justice. The lawyer is an aristocrat from birth, but his father bred him to be a "mechanical worker," and in this way he is the perfect hero, much like Harry Potter. If you read the language of his defense, he berates the villain, the evil clerk who is trying to take advantage of Solon, accusing him of perjury. In the court, the jury represents the general population, and here in this play oppression is the true point of contention on trial. Ellsley's act of perjury is the worst possible offense in a court case, and Winslow damns him by not knowing "the eye of the eternal Judge," or God, and has condemned his self "with his pen of fire" to hell. In the end the jury naturally convicts the villain of his crimes and the victimized justice prevails through the works of the complex hero, the People's Lawyer. Poetic.

Moving on,

The Poor of New York, Act I, Act 5 scene 1

These two passages, the first from Act I, the second from Act V, Scene 1, demonstrate the transformation of Badger’s character. Initially greedy and rotten, he turns a new leaf in the span of the play. The first scene shows how conniving he is, going behind Bloodgood’s back in order to gain an upper hand without actually earning his keep. His interactions with the Fairweather, however, slowly thaws away his greediness, which was most likely acquired in the first place due to the pressures of an emerging capitalist society where an individual must make money to survive. His merits are depicted in the second passage, where Badger announces his new position in the police force and is seen caring for Lucy.  In this sense, Badger is the atypical melodramatic protagonist, whose heroic characteristics are only revealed towards the end of the plot line. Although he seems to be a villain alongside Bloodgood at the beginning of the play, his true merits upgrade him to a hero. Ultimately, Badger is the main driving force of the play; he is the main obstacle in Bloodgood’s path to a stable fortune as well as the savior of the Fairweathers.  

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