The identity of John Galsworthy as a playwright unfolds a different perspective of thinking. A ‘perspective’ that does not always follow the traditional sequence. And this raises a question about whether Galsworthy’s play Justice has any conventional tragic hero.
In modern-day social circumstances, a conventional individual hero or villain is rare. Currently, various social forces play essential roles together in shaping human life. And so it is hard to find an individual to have much significant impact in life. Now, this trend is also visible in modern plays.
Yes, the age of individual heroism is not evident anymore in dramas of modern times. A hero or an idol or star doesn’t appear to possess some divine power. He emerges and dies like other people. Most of the time, nothing exceptional is notable in his appearance and death. The only significant part of his life is his fight with and against social controversies and conflicts.
The reflection of Hercules and Robin hood is, indeed, get isolated in the plot of a modern drama. The changed context of human life nearly replaced the necessity of such individual heroism. Readers and audiences feel more accustomed to ordinary characters coming from the known walks of social life.
Galsworthy’s play Justice also portrays a social conflict and controversy through a tragic tale. The play draws the sufferings of a young fellow named Falder. He commits a crime by altering a cheque that belongs to his employers.
Falder does this forgery to save a married woman from the clutches of her cruel husband. His intention behind this crime is to save the life of an innocent married woman. But his society doesn’t recognize his genuine motive. And as a result, the judiciary prefers to punish him severely. His touching, pathetic death makes an end to the story. However, it gives birth to a poignant feeling among the people.
It is indeed true that Falder is the central character in the play. And the whole story revolves around his crime, punishment, and death. In a word, his act of altering a cheque sets the dramatic platform in motion in the drama.
Now, many critics identify Falder as the conventional tragic hero in the play. According to them, he acquires a pivotal position in the whole story. And his action is the centre of discussion. But, the question is, can he appear as the substitute for other essential characters in the story even after possessing the focal image?
Falder’s character can’t define the role of his employers. Even the persons related to the judiciary possess separate identities and play significant roles in shaping the drama’s mood. And this raises the question of whether Falder is fitting enough in the role of a hero. There is also an issue of whether there is any existence of any conventional merit in Justice.
The reason behind that argument is Falder doesn’t possess any extraordinary personality like a conventional hero or a conventional tragic hero.
He doesn’t have exceptionally unmatchable, divine, and stunning qualities like standard heroism. Also, as per the story, his severely painful days in prison and tragic death do not stir the blind conscience of society. He remains only as an unfortunate fellow with infirm mental stamina. Only the readers’ notion gets touched by the poignant feeling due to his pain and demise.
As the central figure of the tragedy, he only bears the status of affliction, sorrow, pain, and misery. He is more like an “unheroic hero” who owns no glamour or known charming spell like a conventional star. His weak mental power even desists him from emerging as a renowned tragic figure like Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo, or Oedipus with exuberance thinking and imaginative potency.
John Galsworthy depicts Falder like an ordinary human being. And nothing exceptional in him finally let him lost in the world of common deprived masses.
However, according to literary experts, the heroic sense in the conventional notion is not entirely unnoticeable here. For the sake of argument, Falder is the focal character in Justice. But he has no iota of steadfastness like a conventional tragic hero. And when the discussion surrounds the play Justice, there is less chance of any conventionalism.
Justice is a modern-day social tragedy. And in a more advanced and changed context, the reflection of human life in the drama also gets changed. Moreover, tragic figures like King Oedipus can’t be the hero of the modern tragedy, Justice. Yes, a modern tragedy, which bears an association with genuine and modern facts of the social life of the human world.