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The Liberal Trial Play: Notes toward the Formation of a Genre.

Classical tragedy is marked by its recurrent recourse to the law and is traversed by multiple modes of adjudication. In Sophocles's Antigone, for example, the conflict between the dictates of the positive law-giver and the duties of the natural law heroine instantiates the paradigmatic, Hegelian agon--the structural conflict at the heart of tragedy--between mutually exclusive but independently justifiable legal claims. (1) Aeschylus's Eumenides, another seminal jurisprudential play, dramatizes the divinely ordained exchange of retributive for deliberative justice, inaugurating the modern Athenian polity and providing an origin myth for Western democracy. It is well attested that Attic tragedy's almost obsessive concern with legal concepts reflected the theatre's function as an alternative forum for the exercise of participatory citizenship in the rapidly evolving polis. Theatres and law courts were embedded in and sustained the "agonistic culture" of Athenian public space; both were "closely bound up in the mediation of conflicting social values" and "the responses of Athenian citizens as jurors and Assemblymen... were inevitably influenced by the fact of their having been members of theatrical audiences, and vice versa." (2) Those who attended the Dionysian festival came to be entertained, but with respect to both the competition between the tragedians and the fate of their characters, they did so in a judicial frame of mind.

While tragic protagonists, indicted for the commission of crimes by mortal and divine authorities, are condemned (or rarely, as in Orestes's case, absolved) within the plays to which they belong, tragic form also evokes the operations of justice beyond the dramatic frame, permitting reappraisals of plays' verdicts. Whether or not the tragedy dramatizes a trial, it cannot help but become one. It is a commonplace to observe the juridical role of an audience in bearing witness to a character's actions and re-adjudicating the evidence. According to this logic, the play itself might be regarded as performing a kind of advocacy. "When a reasonably good man like ourselves commits a tragic error," Kathy Eden explains, "the completed play demonstrates, much as the forensic speech tries to do, that the protagonist deserves a milder judgment: not the rigid justice of the law, but pity, equity, and pardon." (3) Here, the operations of judgment extend beyond the plays' mimetic content, into the formal relationship that obtains between a play and its audience. By virtue of their structurally juridical as well as their thematically jurisprudential qualities, Greek tragedies are legally inflected in a double sense.

By ascribing the reversal or mitigation of the courts' judgments to "the completed play" [my italics], Eden implies that tragic dramaturgy, like a trial itself, permits arguments both for culpability and exculpation, terminating in the protagonist's extra-legal vindication, rather than insisting on it throughout. Eden's argument here accords with Arthur Miller's observation that "in one sense a play is a species of jurisprudence," in which "some part of it must take the advocate's role," while "something else must act in defence, and the entirety must engage the Law." (4) A similar argument is advanced by Harold Hobson, who asserts, in a review of A Man for All Seasons, that "the dramatic interest of Mr Bolt's play... is that of a prolonged cross-examination." (5) On the modern stage, where the motif of the trial continues to exert a pervasive influence, prolonged cross-examination--the extension of adjudication beyond the courtroom, in the pervasively inquisitorial treatment of the protagonist--is the defining characteristic of a small but tremendously influential group of British, European, and American plays.

Identifying the strategies adopted by playwrights in transforming legal-historical events into theatre, the present article focuses on one German, two American, and three English plays: Brecht's Life of Galileo (1938), Miller's The Crucible (1952), Lawrence and Lee's Inherit the Wind (1955), Shaw's Saint Joan (1923), Rattigan's The Winslow Boy (1946), and Bolt's A Man for all Seasons (1960). Though these six works do not expound identical principles or employ identical techniques, there is a core of similarity relating them, structurally and philosophically, that justifies this parallel analysis and, in moving freely between them, I hope to establish a sense of their group identity. The genre, as I conceive of it, transcends the major categories of dramatic taxonomy, permitting the inclusion of well-made plays, naturalist works, bourgeois tragedies, chronicle histories, and Epic Theatre, and intersects also with recently designated genres--Brenda Murphy's congressional theatre, for example, comprised of works responding to the McCarthyite witch-hunts. (6) Rather than replacing one genre with another, my intention is to provide an alternative lens through which to view these seminal works. My focus is neither the topical significance of the plays' historical allegories or the specific, cultural-historical explanations for their shared concern with institutional injustice, though these are fruitful areas of enquiry. Instead, I position the plays' paradigmatic plot structures, and the experiences of the individuals around whom they revolve, as the chief objects of inquiry.

The genre is porous, in terms of the constituency of works belonging to it. Constraints of space preclude the possibility of a detailed discussion of Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral (1935), which might be seen both as the bastard progeny of Saint Joan and the absent father of A Man for All Seasons. The discussion below also makes reference to Ibsen's The Enemy of the People (1883), which might be regarded as the genre's Ur-text, in terms of the conflict it establishes between the dissident individual and his society, adumbrated by domestic, familial discord. (7) While the writers under discussion here adopt a variety of Ibsen's devices, as they do Eliot's, their critiques are not aimed at quite the same target. Eliot's play concerns the arbitrary power of an irascible monarch; Ibsen's antagonists are the local authorities of a small town, backed by the townspeople, and led by demagogues and pressmen, latter-day "tribunes of the people," treated with Coriolanian contempt by the playwright. Between the personal arbitrariness of monarchical power, as Eliot presents it, and municipal power, as dramatized by Ibsen, falls the institutional exercise of authority, by means of the law--the power invested in courts, whether civil, criminal, or ecclesiastical--which is the focus of the present article.

As is immediately apparent to readers familiar with the plays under discussion here, though all of them are concerned with trials, they do not each devote the same proportion of stage time to the legal proceedings themselves. One scene of seven in Saint Joan takes place in the courtroom; one act of four in The Crucible, roughly three quarters of the action in Inherit the Wind, one scene of six in A Man for All Seasons, and, strikingly, in Galileo and in The Winslow Boy, no time at all. In spite of these differences, crucially, the plays' climactic events and climactic utterances--rhetorical triumphs, ignominious defeats, abjurations, recantations, retractions, verdicts, and executions--are generated by the legal process. This provides us with a working definition: the trial play is a dramatic work in which major plot developments are driven by or toward legal proceedings; it is a play in which legal events guide the action toward its denouement. This is not to say, however, that the courtroom always provides the scene of the play or its dramatic focus.

The alternative focus of the liberal trial play is the experience of the individual at the play's centre--to whom I shall refer, in recognition of his or her legal, in addition to his or her dramaturgical role, as the defendant-protagonist--and it is in the treatment of the individual that the functioning of the plays' adjudicatory dimension can be distinguished from thather of the classical theatre. In The Making of Modern Liberalism, Alan Ryan identifies at "the core of liberalism... a commitment to the sanctity of the individual personality and the inviolability of the individual conscience." (8) For the most part, the plays endorse versions of this creed. But I want to offer two caveats: the first is that since these plays are concerned primarily with the relationship between dissident subjects and over-mighty state apparatuses, the spectator rarely observes the commitment of which Ryan speaks in practice; rather, it appears in jeopardy. All of these works juxtapose the might of the establishment that sits in judgment--in political, economic, socio-cultural, and religious terms--to the disempowerment of the defendant-protagonist, with respect to the same categories. (9) Liberal society's positive doctrines register in these plays by the absence of the conditions to which they aspire. The liberalism actually dramatized is, instead, one of resistance: "a perennial protest against all forms of absolute authority" in the name of "the personality or the rights of those over whom it is exercised." (10) This is the cornerstone of Ryan's defensive liberalism--"a concern to protect individual liberty against a succession of threats"--which perfectly articulates the foremost liberal principle at work in these plays. (11)

The second caveat is that, far from forming an ideologically homogenous group, the playwrights under scrutiny are ranged along a spectrum, from the conservatism of Rattigan to the Marxism of Brecht. Rather than forcing their works into any artificial conformity with one another, I conceive of the plays' liberal identity in terms of a tension between two operative principles--one ideological, concerned with the disembodied subject of political discourse, the other methodological, concerned with the embodied character on stage--that appear in a differential relation to one another across the plays. The liberal trial play is characterized by its dual (but unequal) emphasis on the liberty of the individual in general, philosophical terms, and the dramatic experience of the specific individual. The advocate defending Bert Cates, in Inherit the Wind, for example, is of considerably more dramatic interest than the man he represents. The defendant-protagonist stands for the individual's rights though unlike, say, Joan of Arc, he is not, qua individual, particularly noteworthy. Liberal individualism is thus a more prominent component of Inherit the Wind's ideological argument than of its dramatic structure. In Saint Joan, by contrast, in spite of the structural preeminence of the protagonist, Shaw does not advocate for the liberty of the subject, per se; rather, he is concerned with saints and geniuses, the extraordinary individuals destined to be persecuted by the societies in which they live. In The Life of Galileo, while successive versions of the play shift the emphasis from a concern with the individual's rights to his responsibilities, (12) this does nothing whatever to diminish the play's conspicuous concern with "the great man" himself (13) and the trials of his conscience. (14)

The plays under examination here differ markedly in the treatment of the individual from their classical counterparts, whose heroes, in spite of wearing "individualised mask[s] set[ting] them apart from the anonymous group of the chorus," were not, thereby, endowed with the properties of the modern "psychological subject" as we understand them. (15) By presenting human beings as "committed to [their] actions," Jean-Pierre Vernant explains, "tragedy bears witness to the progress made in the psychological elaboration of the agent... [and yet] it is also evidence of the extent to which, for the Greeks, this category is still limited, indecisive, and vaguely defined." (16) The emergent individuality of the Greek tragic protagonist is radically circumscribed, his or her agency limited, by the supernatural powers governing the temporal order he or she inhabits. (17) Since, according to the Aristotelian analysis, tragic action takes precedence over the demands of tragic character--a scheme that naturalist drama reverses--there remains an unresolved question about "the relationship of this man to the actions upon which we see him deliberate... and for which he takes the initiative and responsibility but whose real meaning is beyond him." (18) The concept of individual autonomy was in its infancy in Hellenic culture and, as Athenian law began in its "clumsy and hesitant manner" to develop "ideas of intention and responsibility," to imagine "an agent... more or less autonomous in relation to the religious forces that govern the universe" and "more or less in control of his own political and personal destiny," tragedy problematized this discourse by means of an "anxious questioning" of the individual's control over events. (19)

Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century drama and jurisprudence, by contrast, placed greater confidence in the individual's autonomy. (20) Discussing the ways in which a court case might be dubbed "the trial of the century," by virtue of its capacity to "symbolise something particular about the age," (21) and the "distinctively modern... sensibility" that causes us to conceive of present-day trials in this way, Lindsey Farmer then "turn[s] the phrase around" and suggests, provocatively, that perhaps "our age [should] be understood as the century of the trial." (22) His explanation has to do (in part) with the opportunities afforded by contemporary criminal proceedings to examine the psychology of the accused. According to Farmer's analysis of the modern trial--in his terminology, the "reconstructive trial"--a variety of nineteenth-century procedural innovations led to increases in the volume of witness testimony and forensic evidence presented, in the detail with which crimes were reconstructed, and crucially, in the scrutiny to which the character and motives of the accused were subject. (23) Though Farmer is careful here, as elsewhere, to resist the idea that that these developments reflected an entirely "new liberal political sensibility--a respect for the individual subject," his argument leaves little doubt that the reconstructive trial's evolution has led "to a new fascination with character" and "a new focus on the state of mind of the accused." (24) Mid- and late-nineteenth-century developments in legal procedure thus reflect the reciprocal and mutually constitutive relationship between modern trials and the formation of modern subjectivity.

If the trial, in our modern conception of it, is viewed as a vehicle for the interrogation of the individual's psychology, then the constitution and self-fashioning of the individual might be viewed in a complementary fashion as being governed by the model of the trial. Though the secular citizens of contemporary Western democracies may no longer have frequent recourse to liturgical settings in which they are called upon to testify, nevertheless, in legal, pedagogical, and professional settings, "the individual is perpetually facing judgment by abstract and impersonal criteria that are only partially revealed." (25) The proliferation of such experiences enmeshes the subject in a perpetual process of adjudication--described by Richard Fenn as "the secularization of the divine lawsuit against mankind"--which generates "a continuing impulse toward the justification of the self." (26) Originating in "a biblical tradition that placed an entire people or a specific individual continually on trial," this impulse is still discernible in "every non-liturgical sphere, where [people] seek to be taken seriously," (27) and emerges as another crucial element of legal-dramatic form. The defendant-protagonist's self-adjudication mediates between those legal proceedings represented in and constituted by drama, between jurisprudential content and juridical form, and between judgment in the play and by the play, facilitating the spectators examination of the defendant-protagonist's guilt or innocence.

Such considerations are not entirely absent from classical drama. When introducing his translation of the Oedipus trilogy, Stephen Spender explains that in both Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonos, "Oedipus is his own judge and jury, convicting himself in the first, acquitting himself in the second. On one level," Spender continues, "the Oedipus plays seem to be about individual conscience--whether Oedipus feels himself guilty or innocent." (28) But Spender's hesitation to privilege this dimension of the play unduly--"on one level"--attests to his awareness of the embryonic state of individual agency and autonomy as ancient Athenian drama conceived of them. In the liberal trial play, by contrast, the trial of conscience plays a pre-eminent role.

Examining the mythos of the law in modern American drama, Thomas Porter presents three hypothetical though unexemplified categories of legal-dramatic treatment: the melodramatic, in which "the hero is falsely accused and vindicated by the verdict"; "more complex versions" wherein "the hero can be declared legally guilty according to a 'bad' law or by a corrupt court, thus throwing the real guilt on the community"; or a "third version [which] declares the hero really guilty under a good law." (29) He goes on to argue that The Crucible, "though it does indict the community, includes a complicating variant because the protagonist, besides answering a formal charge, must satisfy his own conscience about his innocence." (30) Far from "a complicating variant," I regard this as a defining characteristic of the liberal trial play, contributing to the relentless focus upon the defendant-protagonist's conscience which produces the sense of "prolonged cross-examination" that Hobson identifies.

Mapping the Arenas of Conflict

Throughout the course of the defendant-protagonist's confrontations with the authorities, essential elements of his or her identity--John Proctor's name, Saint Joan's love of life, Thomas More's soul, Galileo's appetites--are placed in jeopardy by those who would lay claim to them. This conflict, though concretized as a legal trial, providing the play's dramatic focus or denouement, partakes of a larger ordeal, which is, in fact, the primary movement of the work, containing the lawsuit at its center: the defendant-protagonist's trial of conscience, an extra-legal ordeal (psychological, in terms of his or her experience of it; ethical, in terms of its function) closely related to the legal dimension of the work though governed by different laws. While the defendant-protagonist's legal trial takes place in the public sphere, his or her trial of conscience, though it envelopes the legal conflict, partakes also of the private or the domestic sphere, thus providing alternative settings, removed from the courtroom. In the conflict between entrenched authority and the dissident subject, the defendant-protagonist finds him- or herself opposed not merely to the ruling elite, as embodied by its institutions, but also to the public, whose conservatism and conformity have the effect of reflecting and reinforcing the law wielded by the mighty, and to his or her family, to whose comfort and security the defendant-protagonist's protest poses a threat.

Consider the preachers of Inherit the Wind and The Crucible. Though the defendants in the Scopes and the Salem trials were prosecuted under state law, their transgressions of certain canons of faith constituted what might be regarded as a form of extra-legal guilt in the eyes of their more fanatical contemporaries and those under their influence. This explains the crucial roles played by Reverend Parris and Reverend Brown in the two plays. Neither man belongs to the legal apparatus but both incite the religious fervor of the townspeople and hope to influence those--jury or judiciary--whose opinions will be legally decisive. Their accusations constitute extra-legal embellishments to the cases against the protagonists, both because they are uttered from positions outside the courtroom and because they relate only tangentially to the legal proceedings. Neither Bert Cates nor John Proctor is guilty (of teaching evolution or practicing witchcraft) because he has ceased to attend Church regularly, but Reverend Brown and Reverend Parris are keen to remind the legal officials and the townspeople of these facts in the hope they might be regarded as symptomatic of the defendants' legal guilt.

The defendants, then, are victimized both by the power relation that obtains between them and the institutions they confront in court (church and state), and by elements of public opinion, supplementing the legal charges with extra-legal indictments of their character and behavior. Extra-legal indictments themselves--both public (originating in the community at large) and private (originating in the domestic sphere)--impel the defendant-protagonist toward the climax of his or her trial of conscience and are themselves preconditions for his or her ultimate vindication. The rising actions of these plays steadily increase the burdens of extra-legal accusation that weigh upon the defendant-protagonist, but their falling actions lighten the load. As the plays near their conclusions, forms of extra-legal culpability are eliminated and supplanted, while the law tightens its grip. If a trial's verdict is, as Thomas Porter expresses it, "the epiphany that resolves the agon," (31) in these plays, this resolution presents itself as a bifurcated verdictive outcome, revealing the protagonist's (extra-legal) innocence in the eyes of his or her right-thinking contemporaries at precisely the point at which his or her (legal) guilt is formally established by the judiciary, his principal antagonist. (32) I shall begin by focusing upon two recurrent phenomena in the public sphere, which constitute significant stages in this process, before moving on to the domestic sphere in the second half of the essay.

The Public Sphere I: Self-Sacrificial Reversal

Whether the observable parallels between liberal trial plays provide evidence of the writers' influences upon one another or, rather, of their independent adoption of similar strategies to achieve comparable effects is a matter of some speculation. But though opinion is divided as to Miller's treatment of the judiciary (whether it constitutes a reflection or a rejection of Shaw's even-handedness), it is difficult to ignore the parallel climactic sequences of The Crucible and Saint Joan. (33) In the spirit of nomenclature, I identify these climactic scenes as instances of self-sacrificial reversal.

After Joan signs her recantation, she is shocked to learn that, rather than offering her her freedom, the court will merely commute her sentence. Appalled by the thought of "eat[ing] the bread of sorrow and drink[ing] the water of affliction to the end of [her] earthly days in perpetual imprisonment," she "snatches up the paper; and tears it into fragments." (34) Joan then makes an impassioned speech expressing her abhorrence at the idea of incarceration and her distrust of those who would "make [her] breathe foul damp darkness, and keep from [her] everything that brings [her] back to the love of God" (such as "the wind in the trees, the larks in the sunshine [and] the young lambs crying through the healthy frost"). (35) The following words condemn her utterly: "Without these things I cannot live; and by your wanting to take them away from me... I know that your counsel is of the devil, and that mine is of God." (36) It is in response to this utterance that the assessors and Joan's prosecutor, D'Estivet declare her a relapsed heretic and de Stogumber commands the executioner to light his fire. (37)

In The Crucible, Proctor's self-sacrificial reversal is occasioned not by a fear of perpetual imprisonment, since if he confesses he will be set free, but by his fear of signing his name to a lie and permitting that signature to be publicized by the authorities as a form of propaganda. The judiciary will not be content with his word but require his name, to which Proctor attaches symbolic significance as the guarantee of himself. Once given, it cannot be reclaimed, and so Proctor follows in Joan's footsteps: "[breast heaving, his eyes staring, PROCTOR tears the paper and crumples it, and he is weeping in fury.]" "Man you will hang! You cannot!," Reverend Hale protests; "I can. And there's your first marvel," Proctor responds, "that I can." (38) Proctor cannot live without his name, as Joan cannot live without those things that reveal to her the hand of God in creation.

Bolt's preface to A Man for All Seasons offers a useful gloss on these scenes, explaining that More knew "what area of himself he could yield to the encroachments of his enemies, and... those he loved," but when "he was asked to retreat from that final area where he located his self," he "found something in himself without which life was valueless and when that was denied him was able to grasp his death." (39) For all of Miller's reluctance to treat his protagonist heroically, Proctor might be considered, like Bolt's More, "a hero of selfhood." (40) By choosing execution, both men choose the life-in-death of spiritual salvation rather than the death-in-life of self-betrayal. Though it is not selfhood on its own terms that concerns Shaw--it is the conflict between a visionary and her time--Joan too chooses the death of the body and the salvation of her soul, "insist[ing] in the face of overwhelming force that if there is to be continuing life, it will not be on the terms of the tyrant's law." (41) Both self-sacrificial reversals allow the defendant-protagonists' trials of conscience to reassert themselves as the plays' pre-eminent conflicts, over the narrow legal trials in which the characters are engaged. The actions that provoke their legal defeats--the pronouncement of guilty verdicts--thus precipitate their extra-legal vindications.

The Public Sphere II: The Apostasy of the Chaplaincy

As well as being established directly by the revelation of his or her character, the defendant-protagonist's extra-legal innocence is also established via the spectator's identification with certain crucially placed mediating characters. One recurrent transformative effect mediating the audience's response to the protagonist's fate is the remorse and contrition of those who have most vehemently bayed for their blood. Again, this may be a Shavian technique, adopted by Miller.

Drawn from a mere hint in T. Douglas Murray's account of Joan's trial, John de Stogumber, Keeper of the Private Seal to the Cardinal of Winchester, is, according to Brian Tyson, an "avowedly... Shavian invention." (42) An "emotional patriot and true believer in all the sham ideals that bolster his love of king and country," de Stogumber offers a counter-point to the "clear-eyed cynic[ism]" of the Earl of Warwick. (43) In the tent scene, during which these two characters are introduced, the Chaplain pours scorn upon the "French bastard and [the] witch from lousy Champagne" whose forces have won so many victories, and declares that he "cannot bear to see [his] countrymen defeated by a parcel of foreigners." (44) Offering first to "strangle the accursed witch" who leads them, and then to "burn her with [his] own hands," de Stogumber exhibits all of the blindness, distemper, and wanton cruelty so often associated by Shaw with Englishmen. But de Stogumber will pay dearly for his bloodlust. (45)

If there is one early hint that de Stogumber's implacable hatred of Joan is likely to place his own soul in jeopardy, then it is Cauchon's response to the Chaplains charge of treachery. "If you dare do what this woman has done," warns the Bishop, "--set your country above the holy Catholic Church--you shall go to the fire with her." (46) When de Stogumber's most ardent desire is realized and Joan is handed over by the ecclesiastical court to the secular authorities, though the Chaplain does not accompany her, his soul bears the torment suffered by her body, and he sees the errors of his ways.

After Joan's immolation, de Stogumber "staggers in from the courtyard like a demented creature. His face streaming with tears":
You damn yourself because it feels grand to throw oil on the flaming
hell of your own temper. But... when you see the thing you have done;
when it is blinding your eyes, stifling your nostrils, tearing your
heart, then--then--... O Christ, deliver me from this fire that is
consuming me! She cried to Thee in the midst of it: Jesus! Jesus!
Jesus! She is in Thy bosom; and I am in hell for evermore. (47)

The Chaplain's words are suffused with the imagery of the fire that he has just witnessed. The smell of burning human flesh which clogs de Stogumber's senses is an emanation, so his rhetoric suggests, of "the flaming hell" generated by his own intemperate attitude toward Joan. He believes himself responsible for starting the conflagration which burns Joan--an interpretation for which Shaw has carefully laid the groundwork by having de Stogumber instruct the executioner to light the fire--and which proceeds to devour his soul. These words reach a pitch of emotion un-echoed by anything in the rest of the play, except perhaps for the pastoral idyll that Joan herself evokes in describing those aspects of life on earth that she cherishes. The Elysian imagery that Joan conjures, which prefigures her own soul's reward in heaven, sits in stark contrast to the furnace of de Stogumber's personal hell.

Arthur Miller's remorseful cleric endures a comparable torment and experiences a similar kind of conversion. Reverend Hale, a conspicuously more enlightened man than John de Stogumber, is an "eager-eyed intellectual" on a "beloved errand" to rescue Salem from Satanic forces, and though he feels "the pride of the specialist whose unique knowledge has at last been publicly called for," there is no suggestion that this pride is misplaced. (48) Perhaps under the influence of Shaw's dialectical method, Miller explains that Hale's belief in "the reality of the underworld [and] the existence of Lucifer's many-faced lieutenants... is not to his discredit." (49) Where de Stogumber's goal is the elimination of the sorceress whose devilry has emboldened the upstart French against his rightful English overlords, Hale's "goal is light, goodness and its preservation." (50) This suggests that the seeds of repentance are already sown in Hale's character, and yet he, far more decisively than de Stogumber, will be responsible for the judicial murder of the innocent.

When Hale enters in Act IV, he is "steeped in sorrow, exhausted, and more direct than he ever was." (51) Having distanced himself from the court, he returns from Andover to Salem "to counsel Christians they should belie themselves;" that is, to encourage the condemned to admit to the charge of witchcraft and so save their lives. (52) Arguing that "life... is God's most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it," he pleads with Elizabeth Proctor to intercede with her husband:
Let you not mistake your duty as I mistook my own. I came into this
village like a bridegroom to his beloved, bearing gifts of high
religion;... and what I touched with my bright confidence, it died; and
where I turned the eye of my great faith, blood flowed up. Beware,
Goody Proctor--cleave to no faith when faith brings blood. It is
mistaken law that leads you to sacrifice.... Woman, before the laws of
God we are as swine! We cannot read His will! (53)

Where de Stogumber's rhetoric burns with fire, Hale's is drenched in blood and where Shaw condemns the self-righteousness of those blinded by prejudice, Miller warns of the risks associated with misplaced zealotry. Hale's speech is an eloquent disquisition on his own aberration and a sermon on Christian value. In both cases, however, the young clergyman disavows his own fanaticism and preaches against the virulence of his earlier faith. The apostasy of the chaplaincy serves an admonitory function, warning audiences to beware of their own prejudices, and establishes the innocence of the defendant by way of the extremist's remorse.

The Private Sphere I: Filial-Marital Conflict

The opposition of the fanatical clerics to the defendant-protagonists in the public sphere is matched by the opposition of their families in the private sphere. The domestic realm in these plays does not present the protagonists with a refuge from the courtroom but rather with an alternative arena of prosecution. As Stephen Marino observes, in a discussion of The Crucible's rhetoric of judging, "Miller creates an intriguing inversion of house, church, and prison in the entire play, where each structure is used not for its original purpose, but rather as a court." (54) Jeffrey Mason goes further: Proctor "casts [his wife] as a judge and establishes his home as a court; in effect, the actual court and its proceedings have set the pattern for the private lives of the people of Salem.... The guiding metaphor for personal life is the criminal trial." (55) In analyzing the movement of the plays, from the initial stages of the protagonist's legal and extra-legal incrimination to the bifurcated verdictive outcome (legal condemnation and extra-legal vindication), I will consider two recurrent phenomena within the domestic sphere, which I term filial-marital conflict and spousal absolution.

The Life of Galileo, A Man for All Seasons, and The Winslow Boy all make a significant fact of an engagement in jeopardy. The protagonists Galileo, Sir Thomas More, and Arthur Winslow have daughters, Virginia, Margaret, and Catherine; those daughters have suitors, Ludovico Marsili, William Roper, and John Watherstone; those suitors have allegiances--political, familial, confessional, or otherwise ideological--which set them in conflict with the protagonists. (56) This filial-marital conflict is a further trial for the accused in the sense that it forces him to supplement his primary dilemma--danger in self-realization versus safety in self-betrayal--with a secondary dilemma--the adherence to personal principle versus the advancement of his offspring's interests.

Ludovico Marsili, described on his entrance as "a rich young man" appears at Galileo's lodgings in search of a scientific education, which his family deems a suitable accomplishment for a person of his breeding. (57) Though Ludovico's training as a mathematician never really takes off, he does become engaged to Galileo's daughter and the modesty of the unpromising student is gradually replaced by the self-assurance of the aristocratic suitor. After Galileo's first skirmish with the Inquisition in 1616, the Marsili family persuades Ludovico to wait until the astronomer has proved his conformity, and docility, before marrying his daughter. Eight years pass, and Virginia has obviously received sufficient encouragement to purchase a wedding dress, but the death of the old Pope and the accession of the scientifically-minded Barberini (Urban VIII) embolden Galileo to turn his attention to new research. The scientist is warned by his housekeeper that though she has chosen "to forfeit eternal bliss by sticking with a heretic," he has "no right to trample all over [his] daughter's happiness," but Galileo ignores her and "gruffly" instructs Andrea to "bring the telescope." (58) Ludovico is perturbed and, claiming that the peasants in his mother's fields would be dismayed to learn of "frivolous attacks on the church's sacred doctrines," he adjures the astronomer to abandon his heliocentric heresy for the sake of their families' accord. But Galileo counters, contending that the laboring classes are, in fact, the true audience for and beneficiaries of observational science: "the people who make the bread," he insists, "will understand that nothing moves unless it has been made to move." (59) "Make my excuses to Virginia," Marsili commands as he leaves, never to return. (60)

In The Winslow Boy, though John Watherstone does not initially seem much perturbed by Catherine's radical sympathies or her activism on behalf of women's suffrage, as Ronnie's trial gathers momentum, his nuptial enthusiasm begin to waver. Catherine informs her brother Dickie that the match has been postponed temporarily on account of Colonel Watherstone's travel plans, "shak[ing] her head [and] smiling, but not too emphatically" when Dickie asks her if whether anything is wrong. (61) Citing certain unspecified "differences of opinion" as the only obstacles to her marital prospects, Cate reassures Dickie that "[she]'ll get him past the altar rails, if [she has] to drag him there." (62) When Sir Robert Morton accepts the Winslows' brief, however, and the case is raised in Parliament, John's father declares that the family's "efforts to discredit the Admiralty in the House of Commons... have... [made] the name of Winslow a nationwide laughing-stock" and vows to "exert every bit of influence he has over his son"--namely, the withdrawal of John's allowance--"to prevent him marrying [Catherine]." (63) Arthur Winslow is heartbroken; his wife's accusations about the sacrifices the family has been forced to make for the case hit home, and in spite of Sir Robert's resistance, he declares his intention to drop the case. When news arrives that the First Lord of the Admiralty "will instruct the Attorney-General to endorse [their] Petition of Right," Sir Robert turns to Arthur Winslow for instructions. (64) "The decision is no longer mine, sir. You must ask my daughter," Winslow informs him. (65) "Do you need my instructions, Sir Robert?," Catherine asks, "Aren't they already on the Petition? Doesn't it say: Let Right be done?" And John "turns abruptly to the door" his engagement at an end. (66)

The situation in A Man for All Seasons is altogether more complicated. Initially, Roper's Lutheran, anti-clerical stance causes More to forbid the match--"the answer's 'no'... And will be 'no,' so long as you're a heretic"--but the young suitor changes tack once England's divorces from Catherine and from Rome are in the wind. (67) Roper sees behind "an attack on the Church herself... an attack on God," and at this point, his opposition to the Henrician supremacy frightens his prospective father-in-law, who, as Lord Chancellor, cannot be seen to entertain the treasonous implications of Roper's speech. (68) Though, ultimately, More will die for the same beliefs, he is infinitely more circumspect in the way he expresses himself; thus, the opposition between hot-tempered ideologue (Roper) and cautious diplomat (More)--in spite of the shifting grounds of their conflict--remains consistent in tone. Finally, when Roper accompanies Alice and Margaret to visit More in prison, horrified by the sight of the rack, he begs his father-in-law to "Swear to the Act! Take the oath and come out!" (69) For all of his youthful passion, Roper does not have More's moral fiber. Incapable of self-betrayal, More will die for his beliefs, while Roper, like all of the trial plays' sons-in-law, would (presumably) sacrifice his integrity to retain his position. In all these cases, the defendant-protagonist provokes his family's resentment by prioritizing the demands of his private conscience, with respect to the legal battle he wages, over his familial duty.

The Private Sphere II: Spousal Absolution

The final scenes of the liberal trial play have one primary purpose, which is to absolve the protagonist of his or her extra-legal guilt, in every available arena, and to bring all parties together--with the crucial exception of the judiciary itself--in support of the principles for which the protagonist has fought. In the domestic sphere, the guilt of the defendants is attenuated by a form of spousal absolution, whereby the defendants' wives--Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible and Alice More in A Man for All Seasons, both of them inheriting the part from Ibsen's Catherine Stockmann--acknowledge their husbands' virtue, which previously they have impugned, when it becomes clear to the audience that the defendants are marked for death. Both the apostasy of the chaplaincy and spousal absolution provide instances of the protagonists' acquittal on charges of extra-legal culpability, removing guilt from the accused and transferring it onto their accusers in the plays' final scenes.

When John Proctor suggests to his wife that he might confess himself a witch to save his life, Elizabeth responds, enigmatically, "I cannot judge you, John." (70) For Proctor, however, his wife's verdict is all important; he seeks Elizabeth's forgiveness for the infidelity that has provoked her froideur.
Elizabeth...: John, it come to naught that I should forgive you, if
you'll not forgive yourself. Now he turns away a little, in great
agony. It is not my soul, John, it is yours. He stands, as though in
physical pain, slowly rising to his feet with a great immortal longing
to find his answer.... Only be sure of this, for I know it now:
Whatever you will do it is a good man does it... Do what you will. But
let none be your judge. There be no higher judge under Heaven than
Proctor is! Forgive me. Forgive me, forgive me, John.--I never knew
such goodness in the world! (71)

Proctor's contemplation of the possibility of confession reveals that it is not so much his steadfastness or his morally upright nature that persuades her as it is the sum of his conduct throughout the play: the authentic agony of his soul, the suffering that he has endured for the sake of the truth, and the penance he has performed and continues to perform for his aberration. As Elizabeth's rhetoric makes clear, when the power to judge is reclaimed from the court by the defendant-protagonist, he finds "the goodness of individual conscience which defeats its opposite: the evil of state-sponsored fanaticism." (72)

Though the spousal absolution of Bolt's play is more conspicuously produced by Sir Thomas's unbending adherence to principle, Alice's volte-face is also untraceable to any particular event or argument. As the King's dissatisfaction with his Lord Chancellor grows throughout the play, Alice becomes increasingly concerned about the effects of the Henry's displeasure upon the family's domestic circumstances. When the Convocation votes in favour of the Act of Supremacy, she will not help her husband remove his chain of office, exclaiming, "Master More, you're taken for a wise man! Is this wisdom to betray your ability, abandon practice, forget your station and your duty to your kin"? These lines contain an elegant elision of the responsibilities the defendant-protagonist is expected to honor, across the public and private spheres. (73) The abandonment of his office impels Mores family toward relative penury--the dismissal of servants, the burning of bracken in their fireplace, eating "parsnips and stinking mutton"--and himself toward death. (74)

None of his family's entreaties has any effect upon More's inability to swear to the oath, but More, like Proctor--and the influence of Miller is palpable here--prizes the understanding of his wife almost as highly as the dictates of his own conscience. (75) "I am faint when I think of the worst that they may do to me. But worse than that would be to go, with you not understanding why I go." (76) Though Alice insists that his death, whether "good" or "bad" is of no use to her and rejects its necessity, at this point she suddenly changes tack. "As for understanding, I understand you're the best man that I ever met or am likely to," she declares; "And if anyone wants my opinion of the King and his Council they've only to ask for it!" "Why, it's a lion I married!," More responds. (77) Like Elizabeth Proctor, Alice has it in her power to grant her husband the absolution on earth that permits him imagine the possibility of heavenly salvation. Mediating, as it were, vertically, between the temporal and the spiritual spheres, and horizontally, between the defendant-protagonist and the audience, spousal absolution is a form of redemption onstage that has implications off. Alice More and Elizabeth Proctor thus transform their husbands' extra-legal guilt into extra-legal innocence, endorsing their virtues as husbands, as men, and as human beings, moments before their deaths.

Transcending the Spheres

In The Winslow Boy and Inherit the Wind--where the trials adhere to the adversarial rather than the inquisitorial legal model--convergences of opinion and the resolution of conflict are achieved via a strategy which transcends the distinction between public and private spheres. In each play, a young woman (Catherine Winslow, Rachel Brown) closely connected to the defendant-protagonist (Ronnie/Arthur Winslow, Bert Cates), who has mistrusted his defense counsel (Robert Morton, Henry Drummond) throughout the trial, acknowledges the advocate's virtue, the merit of his principles, and her own prejudice. Again, the strategy obeys the fundamental impulse underlying the trial play's conclusion--that all significant parties with a stake in the defendants cause resolve their differences and agree upon essentials.

In The Winslow Boy, Catherine Winslow, as a suffragette and radical, mistrusts the reactionary conservative defending her brother. Determined to establish his son's innocence at any price, Arthur Winslow offers the brief to England's finest advocate, in spite of his daughter's protests against Sir Robert's odious politics and his flagrant self-regard. But as the play nears its conclusion, the evidence stacks up in favor of Morton's sincere commitment to the family's cause. Desmond Curry, the Winslows' solicitor, reveals that the famous advocate has refused the Lord Chief Justiciary for the sake of the case, and the family's maid, Violet, reports that the pronouncement of Ronnie's innocence in court reduced him to tears. Ultimately, Catherine concedes that she has been a fool to distrust Sir Robert's motives and, in the closing moments of the play, begs his forgiveness for having "entirely misjudged [his] attitude to [the] case." (78)

Though the ideological poles are reversed, a similar process is observable in Inherit the Wind, where the defendant's romantic interest, Rachel, the daughter of the local preacher, becomes the subject of an unconventional form of filial-marital conflict, torn between the dissidence of her lover and the conservatism of her father, Reverend Brown. Dismayed by Bert's heretical stance and forced to testify against him by Brady's cajoling, Rachel nonetheless comes to understand something of the principles at stake in Bert's trial and undergoes a conversion of her own. Returning The Origin of Species to her lover, in the presence of his defense counsel, Rachel claims to have "read it. All the way through. I don't understand it. What I do understand, I don't like." (79) But while Rachel remains opposed to the idea that "men come from apes and monkeys," she acknowledges the irrelevance of her opposition: "Maybe what Mr. Darwin wrote is bad. I don't know. Bad or good, it doesn't make any difference. The ideas have to come out." (80) The effects of Rachel's enlightenment echo, in part, those of the spousal absolutions in The Crucible and A Man for all Seasons--uniting the defendant's camp in support of his case. The opposition of these conscientious young women is thus eradicated in the closing moments of the plays.

Liberal Trial Plays across the Ideological Divide

The possibility of reconciliation between ideological antagonists accompanying the discussion of a seminal scientific treatise also provides the backdrop to The Life of Galileo's conclusion, where the Discorsi rather than the Origin of Species is the subject of discussion, but in Brecht's play, at least in its most commonly performed version, all parties do not end in accord. I should like to conclude this discussion by considering what might be deemed the most obviously controversial part of my argument, the placement of a play by Bertolt Brecht within the designation of a liberal genre, by examining the relationship between The Life of Galileo and A Man for All Seasons.

That Bolt had Brecht in mind while composing A Man for All Seasons is evidenced not only by his adoption of numerous alienation effects but also by an unmistakable verbal echo. Dismayed by his master's capitulation (under threat of torture and excommunication) to the Ptolomaic orthodoxy, Galileo's erstwhile pupil, Andrea, utters the following lament: "Unhappy the land that has no heroes." "Unhappy the land where heroes are needed," Galileo responds. (81) Brecht's disparagement of heroism, as a salve to constitutional injustice, has its roots in dialectical materialism and the Marxist critique of Carlylean historiography. Margaret More's, meanwhile, is founded upon a Christian rejection of earthly pride. Hoping to convince her father that there is something un-Christian in electing to suffer, disproportionately, for the evil of the world, Meg finds herself bested by her father's rejoinder. In "a State where virtue was profitable," he explains, "we'd live like animals or angels in the happy land that needs no heroes," but since we inhabit a sinful world, where we have to choose between sin and virtue "to be human at all... why then we must stand fast a little--even at the risk of being heroes." (82) Though orthodox Catholicism, like orthodox Marxism, cannot sustain the conception of human agency that heroism implies, More will risk creating the impression of heroism produced by adhering to divine law in a world of moral compromise. What both works imply is that a better world--whether Christian or Communist--in which the roles they are called upon to play have become obsolete is a remote, though realizable, possibility.

In response to A Man for All Seasons' homage, the reviewers' opinions ranged from the left-wing critique of Bolt's Brechtian borrowing as a token aesthetic gesture, lacking the ideological commitment that might have justified its employment, to the bizarre speculation, from the right, that Bolt might be "a satirical pseudonym of Bertolt Brecht, invented by a sly translator to smuggle one of Herr Brecht's plays past Mr 'Binkie' Beaumont's 'Customs.'" (83) The most unfavourable comparison was published by the mid-century British theatre's preeminent taste-maker, Kenneth Tynan, who disparaged Bolt for "look[ing] at history exclusively through the eyes of his saintly hero. Brecht's vision is broader," Tynan asserts; "he looks at Galileo through the eyes of history." (84) In response to Tynan's repudiation of the subjectivity of his approach, Bolt inquired as to what remains "when the 'objective' truth of Galileo's beliefs is removed... Just Galileo," he responds. "And that is what Brecht's play is about, as mine is about More." (85) Bolt corrects this oversimplification in due course ("The personal is not 'merely' personal") but his assertion does register the comparably privileged positions of the plays' protagonists. (86) Radical rejections of the status quo, Bolt argues, are valuable only "in the name of a definite vision of what an individual human person is, and is not being allowed to be." (87) Brecht too "naturally worries about 'what an individual human person is,'" Tynan insists, "but he also worries about the society into which that person was born, and the contributions he made (or failed to make) towards improving it." (88)

Tynan, it is worth remembering, was reviewing the "Californian" version of the play at the Mermaid in 1960, composed in collaboration with its star, Charles Laughton, in Hollywood between 1944 and 1946. In this rewrite for the atomic age, Brecht emphasised the scientist's unfulfilled obligations to society--the effects of Galileo's recantation being to betray the science-for-the-people he set in motion and to re-entrench governmental control of the sciences, to nefarious (specifically, nuclear) ends. In the earlier "Danish" version, by contrast, the dissident protagonist, forced to capitulate by the legal-ecclesiastical authorities, serves the interests of science in secret and cannot be so roundly condemned. The original work, in short, is considerably more sympathetic to its protagonist. Galileos abjuration is largely (though not entirely) vindicated, and his preservation of a copy of the Discorsi effects the liberal trial play's characteristic rapprochement, indeed absolution, between master and pupil.

Reading The Life of Galileo as a liberal trial play endorses neither the orthodox, Soviet interpretation of the three texts (Danish, American, and German) as stages in the development of a Marxist-Leninist classic nor Eric Bentley's view of the Danish and American plays as political inversions of one another--the former as "a 'liberal' defense of freedom against tyranny" and the latter as "a Marxist defense of a social conception of science." (89) To do so would be to "deny," in John White's words, "the creative centrality of [Brecht's] Marxism" and to risk mischaracterising him as no more "than an enlightened humanist." (90) But my reading would give credence to Andrew Parker's argument that Brecht's deeply personal vision of the "heretic in the theocratic system" partakes both of the playwright's unease with the reactionary politics of the Third Reich and those of the USSR during the period of the Moscow trials. (91) Rather than seeking to disavow the playwright's Marxism, to designate The Life of Galileo a liberal trial play is to question (as Brecht himself has done) the Marxist orthodoxy of his dramatic method. "Technically," the dramatist writes, after partially revising the text in early 1939, "Life of Galileo is a great step backwards"; to achieve his broader aims, "it would all have to be more direct, without the interiors, the atmospherics, the empathy." (92) These effects generate patterns of identification (abundant in the Danish version, significantly retained in the American and German texts (93)), which, alongside the defendant-protagonist's prolonged cross-examination (legal, theological, scientific, and domestic) and the privileged status accorded his conscience, beset by public and private tyrannies, identify The Life of Galileo with the genre under discussion.

In addition to facilitating the parallel analysis of a series of seminal works, this challenge to the entrenched orthodoxies of mid-twentieth-century theatre criticism, and the authority of the critic with whom they are most readily identified, may also permit a reconsideration of the logic according to which modern dramatic genres have been formulated. (94) Moreover, in designating the liberal trial play as such, I hope to have taken the first step toward a taxonomy of jurisprudential dramas proliferating forms over the last half-century. To analyze the way in which a documentary drama in verse, such as Peter Weiss's The Investigation (1965), engages the law, or a postmodern evidentiary collage, such as Emily Mann's The Execution of Justice (1985), or a verbatim rendering of court transcripts, such as Nicolas Kent's Srebrenica (1996), or a classical tragedy with Xhosa choric accompaniment, such as Yael Farber's Molora (2007), it is essential first to delineate the structural principles underpinning the twentieth-century trial play's foundational genre. Recent jurisprudential drama distributes the audience's attention across numerous witnesses, defendants and lawyers, subjecting political processes, civic institutions, and legal injustices to scrutiny from all sides. The liberal trial play--which permits a range of ideological articulations to flesh out the skeleton of its paradigmatic form--focuses on the individual, enmeshed in social and political systems, without dictating his or her ideal relationship to them. Robert Bolt's identification of the common ground shared by his play and Brecht's provides an eloquent summation of the genre's characteristics: "Both plays are about uncommon individuals but both are also about organised society. As the essence of organised society I have taken, quite overtly I think, the structure of the Law." (95) It neither unfairly diminishes the one nor unjustifiably elevates the other to observe this kinship.


University of Haifa


(1) Though the natural law (physis) vs. positive law (nomos) reading of Antigone dominates jurisprudential approaches to the play, there is a dissenting tradition which disputes the natural law foundations of Antigone's protest. See Tony Burns, "Sophocles' Antigone and the History of the Concept of Natural Law," Political Studies 50 (2002): 545-57.

(2) Elton T. E. Barker, Entering the Agon: Dissent and Authority in Homer, Historiography and Tragedy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 2; J. Ober and Barry S. Strauss, "Drama, Political Rhetoric, and the Discourse of Athenian Democracy," in Nothing to Do with Dionysos? Athenian Drama in Its Social Context, eds. J. J. Winkler and F. I. Zeitlin (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), 238.

(3) Kathy Eden, Poetic and Legal Fiction in the Aristotelian Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 59.

(4) Arthur Miller, introduction to Collected Plays (New York: Viking Press, 1957), 1-55, 24-25.

(5) Harold Hobson, "The Law is not Enough," Sunday Times, July 3, 1960.

(6) Brenda Murphy, Congressional Theatre: Dramatizing McCarthyism on Stage, Film, and Television (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

(7) Ibsen's influence here is both extensive and asymmetrical. As Thomas Adler explains, while the anti-idealism that Shaw inherits from Ibsen is best encapsulated by Stockmann's dictum "the majority is always wrong"--a principle that undoubtedly informs Saint Joan--Arthur's Miller's adaptation of The Enemy of the People, which might be seen as mediating between Ibsen's original and The Crucible, eschews the troublingly elitist and antidemocratic elements of the play. See Thomas Adler, "Conscience and Community in An Enemy of the People and The Crucible" in The Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller, ed. Christopher Bigsby, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 89-103, 91. See also David Bronsen, "An Enemy of the People: A Key to Arthur Miller's Art and Ethics," Comparative Drama 2 (1968-1969): 229-47.

(8) Alan Ryan, The Making of Modern Liberalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), 8.

(9) The most absolute example of this antagonism can be seen in Shaw's Saint Joan, where an illiterate, rustic, female child faces the supreme authority, the patriarchal structure, and the intellectual cosmopolitanism of the Catholic Church. Mutatis mutandis, a comparable confrontation is played out in all of these works.

(10) Ryan, The Making of Modern Liberalism, 8-9.

(11) Ibid, 9.

(12) For an authoritative account of the play's development and the texts of its alternative versions see Bertolt Brecht, Life of Galileo, trans. John Willett, ed. John Willett and Ralph Mannheim (London: Eyre Methuen, 1980), "Introduction," vi-xxii, and "Notes and Variants," 115-265.

(13) It is relevant in this context that while Brecht was prepared to agree with Walter Benjamin that "the 'hero' of this work was not Galileo but the people," the observation seemed to him "rather too briefly expressed. I hope this works shows," Brecht continued, "how society extorts from its individuals what it needs from them." (Brecht, Life of Galileo, 126.)

(14) It is tempting here to draw an analogy between the structural principle I have identified and Colin Bird's account of methodological individualism, which "states that all accounts of social phenomena must be expressed in terms of facts about the individuals who contribute to or participate in them." As "a set of claims about social explanation," methodological individualism does not espouse a particular philosophy of government; it simply insists that the relevant social fact is the individual, as opposed to, say, the municipality, or the economy, or the nation. I am not suggesting that methodological individualism is the political creed to which, say, Brecht adheres (far from it), but rather that it provides a viable analogy for a dramatic form structured around the individual without confining the dramatist to a particular belief about the desirability of his or her autonomy or otherwise. Colin Bird, The Myth of Liberal Individualism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 9.

(15) Jean-Pierre Vernant & Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Myth & Tragedy in Ancient Greece, trans. Janet Lloyd (New York: Zone, 1988), 26.

(16) Ibid., 82.

(17) Of course, the individual's agency is not regarded today as entirely uncircumscribed by external forces; supernatural powers now compete with our nature, our nurture, and the impulses of our psyches, inter alia.

(18) Ibid., 32.

(19) Ibid., 46.

(20) To make the leap from the drama and jurisprudence of ancient Greece to those of modern Britain is, of course, to bypass the entirety of Christian history and theology, and their contributions, most notably those of St. Augustine, to contemporary notions of selfhood and individuality. See Crotty, Law's Interior, 105-124 and Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), 127-42.

(21) A trial's capacity both to distil the preoccupations of its period and to expose the ideological fault lines of the society in which it takes place explains (in part) the trial play's effectiveness as a mode of historical drama.

(22) Lindsay Farmer, "Trials," in Law and the Humanities: An Introduction, ed. Austin Sarat, Matthew Anderson, and Catherine O. Frank (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 456-7.

(23) Ibid., 459.

(24) Ibid., 464, 477; Lindsay Farmer, "Criminal Responsibility and the Proof of Guilt," in Modern Histories of Crime and Punishment, ed. Markus D. Dubber and Lindsay Farmer (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 42-65, 47. In the analysis that follows, I want to mirror Farmer's observations, and his caution, by suggesting that the particular model of jurisprudential drama that dominates the mid-twentieth stage focuses its attention upon the mind of the defendant-protagonist, establishing individualism as the pre-eminent dramatic principle, if not always the pre-eminent political creed, in modern trial plays.

(25) Richard K. Fenn, Liturgies & Trial: The Secularization of Religious Language (Oxford: Blackwell, 1982), 1.

(26) Ibid., 2, 7.

(27) Ibid., 7.

(28) Stephen Spender, The Oedipus Trilogy (London: Faber 8c Faber, 1985), 13.

(29) Thomas E. Porter, Myth and Modern America Drama (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1969), 184.

(30) Ibid., 185.

(31) Ibid., 180.

(32) Ibid., 180.

(33) For comparisons of the two works, see Benjamin Nelson, Arthur Miller: Portrait of a Playwright (London: Peter Owen, 1970), 161-2; Richard Watts, Jr., "Mr. Miller Looks at Witch-Hunting," New York Post, January 23, 1953, in James J. Martine, Critical Essays on Arthur Miller (Boston, MA: G. K. Hall, 1970), 73-74; Bernard Dukore, "Shaw and American Drama," Shaw 14 (1992): 127-43; and Dennis Welland, Arthur Miller: A Study of His Plays (London: Eyre Methuen, 1979), 58-60.

(34) George Bernard Shaw, Saint Joan: A Chronicle Play in Six Scenes and an Epilogue (London: Penguin 2003), 143.

(35) Ibid.

(36) Ibid.

(37) The maid was, indeed, burnt as a relapsed heretic--after her recantation she had her dress stolen and, for fear of rape at the hands of the English soldiers, put on the only clothes to hand, which were men's--but here Shaw retains the detail of Joan's historic sentence, while changing the explanation for it, making a Shavian point about the injustices of the prison system in the process. For details, see Daniel Hobbins, The Trial of Joan of Arc (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2005).

(38) Arthur Miller, The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts (New York: Penguin, 2002), 133.

(39) Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons (London: Methuen, 1995), xi-xii.

(40) Ibid., xiii. Bolt offers this epithet apologetically, since heroic selfhood is clearly anathema to the doctrinal orthodoxy which More professed and for the sake of which he sacrificed his life.

(41) Robert Cover, "Violence and the Word," in Narrative, Violence and the Law: the Essays of Robert Cover, ed. Marthaw Minow, Michael Ryan, and Austin Sarat (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), 207. I quote from Cover's analysis of martyrdom, which he treats as "a proper starting place for understanding the nature of legal interpretation" (207) in so far as it realizes the confrontation between mutually incompatible legal worlds, or normative universes, in the flesh of their adherents. The plays under scrutiny here similarly present their protagonists' ideological commitments in extremis.

(42) Brian Tyson, The Story of Shaw's "Saint Joan" (Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1982), 35.

(43) Ibid.

(44) Shaw, Saint Joan, 97, 95.

(45) Ibid., 96, 108.

(46) Ibid., 102.

(47) Ibid., 147.

(48) Miller, The Crucible, 30-31.

(49) Ibid., 31.

(50) Ibid., 34.

(51) Ibid., 119.

(52) Ibid., 121.

(53) Ibid., 122.

(54) Stephen A. Marino, A Language Study of Arthur Miller's Plays: The Poetic in the Colloquial (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 2002), 59.

(55) Jeffrey D. Mason, Stone Tower: The Political Theatre of Arthur Miller (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008), 126.

(56) Though it is Ronnie Winslow's alleged theft of a postal order that initiates the action in The Winslow Boy, the play's legal proceedings concern his father, Arthur's, challenge to the Admiralty's high-handedness by means of a Petition of Right. It is thus Arthur rather than Ronnie who ought to be regarded as the play's defendant-protagonist in terms of the liberal trial play's typology.

(57) Bertolt Brecht, Life of Galileo, in Willett and Manheim, Bertolt Brecht, 11. Ludovico was not an aristocrat in the original "Danish" version of the play. By making him a member of the landowning classes, Brecht provides a domestic supplement to the defendant-protagonist's conflict with the establishment. See Willett and Manheim, Bertolt Brecht, 167.

(58) Brecht, Life of Galileo, 78.

(59) Ibid., 79-80.

(60) Ibid., 80. N.B.

(61) Terence Rattigan, The Winslow Boy (London: Nick Hern, 1994), 32.

(62) Ibid.

(63) Ibid., 66-67.

(64) Ibid., 70, 73, 74.

(65) Ibid., 74.

(66) Ibid. Catherine Winslow's decision to side with her father against her pusillanimous fiance echoes the filial-marital conflict of An Enemy of the People, where any potential liaison between Dr. Stockmann's daughter, Petra, and Hovstad, editor of the People's Herald, comes to an end once it becomes clear that his support for her father has been motivated by trivial romantic considerations rather than by the moral conviction she had imputed to him. See Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck, Rosmersholm (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 51-54.

(67) Robert Bolt, A Man for all Seasons (London: Methuen, 1995), 18.

(68) Ibid., 38.

(69) Ibid., 87.

(70) Miller, The Crucible, 125.

(71) Ibid., 126-27.

(72) Marino, A Language Study of Arthur Miller's Plays, 63.

(73) Bolt, A Man for All Seasons, 55-56

(74) Ibid., 69.

(75) Bolt's biographer records the fact that he had seen The Crucible at the Bristol Old Vic during the composition of the original radio version of A Man for All Seasons. Adrian Turner, Robert Bolt: Scenes from Two Lives (London: Vintage, 1999), 107.

(76) Bolt, A Man for All Seasons, 90.

(77) Ibid., 91.

(78) Rattigan, The Winslow Boy, 93. As I argue elsewhere, the reconciliation between Morton and Kate may be derived from the relationship between Sydney Carton and Lucy Manette in Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. See Alex Feldman, "Currents in the Cross-Legal: Re-contextualising Rattigan's The Winslow Boy" New Theatre Quarterly 31, no. 2 (2015): 99-115 (105-6).

(79) Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, Inherit the Wind (London: Four Square, 1960), 154.

(80) Ibid.

(81) Brecht, Life of Galileo, 98.

(82) Bolt, A Man for All Seasons, 88.

(83) Robert Muller, "Mr Bolt (Did I Hear Brecht?) Gets his Play Across," Daily Mail, July 2, 1960.

(84) Kenneth Tynan, "Heroes and Hero-Worship," Observer, July 10, 1960.

(85) Robert Bolt, "More and Galileo: A Playwright Replies," Observer, July 17, 1960.

(86) Ibid.

(87) Ibid.

(88) Kenneth Tynan, "The Boltian Hypothesis," Observer, July 17, 1960.

(89) Eric Bentley, introduction to Galileo, by Bertolt Brecht (New York: Grove, 1966), 18-19.

(90) John J. White, "Introduction: The Stages of a Critical Project," in Brecht: Leben des Galilei (London: Grant & Cutler, 1996), 10. For a more recent, theoretically-informed synthesis of the debate, see Robert Mitlisch, "Performing Difference: Brecht, Galileo, and the Regime of Quotations," Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 6, no. 1 (1991): 15-28.

(91) Stephen Parker, "Taoist Paradox and Socialist-Realist Didactics: Re-grounding the Galileo Complex in the 'Danish' Leben Des Galilei. Brecht's Testimony from the 'Finsteren Zeiten,'" German Life and Letters 69, no. 2 (2016): 192-212 (210). See also Stephen Parker, "Survival in an Age of Reaction," in Bertolt Brecht: A Literary Life (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 379-401. Earlier versions of this argument can be found in Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast. Trotsky 1929-1940 (London: Oxford University Press, 1963) and Betty Nance Weber, "The Life of Galileo and the Theory of Revolution in Permanence," in Bertolt Brecht: Political Theory and Literary Practice, ed. Betty Nance Weber and Hubert Heinen (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1980), 53-84. The liberal trial play's reflection of its author's own experience of writerly dissidence is also the subject of recent work on The Crucible. See Jeffrey Clapp, "From Signing to Strangling: Arthur Miller and the National Security State," Textual Practice 28 (2014): 365-84.

(92) Quoted in Willett and Manheim, Bertolt Brecht, 164.

(93) "I wouldn't go to the stake for the formal aspects of this play," Brecht noted in July 1945. Quoted in ibid., 166.

(94) Thus, I see this work as tangentially related to the seminal revisionist account of twentieth-century theatre history offered by Dan Rebellato, 1956 and All That: The Making of Modern British Drama (London: Routledge, 1999).

(95) Robert Bolt, "More and Galileo: A Playwright Replies," Observer, July 17, 1960.
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Author:Feldman, Alexander
Publication:Comparative Drama
Date:Sep 22, 2017
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