As a playwright, John Galsworthy’s matchless contribution in the arena of literature and drama is unquestionable. But like other eminent authors, he too has been facing criticism for his works. And considering his social play Justice as social propaganda by the critics is one such hugely discussed criticism.
There is no denying that a dramatist like Galsworthy can’t even think of creating a masterpiece for portraying it as a part of specific propaganda. But the enormous success of a gem like Justice opens up the opportunity for extensive analyses. And these kinds of minute studies and surveys give birth to both appreciation and questionnaire.
The famous English playwright is more popular as the most valuable and perfect narrator of the eventful English society during the late Victorian era. His writings even include a significant portion of the Edwardian age too. Most of his social plays acutely show Galsworthy’s concern, especially for the middle-class people during these eras. And the main content of most of these plays depicts some fundamental social problems.
The three most famous plays, Loyalties, Strife, and Justice, embody specific society-related burning issues of his age. Even in the current century, they emerge with utmost social value. The English dramatist presented his society with restrained emotional intensity and profound seriousness in these masterpieces. Here he outlined all crucial features of the society, be it conflicts or contradictions. In reality, the English author appears as a keen observer of human life in the societal mirror.
In Justice, the author created a platform for striking a heavy blow on social customs. Yes, customs that compelled humans’ ‘good sense’ to get perished. The hard-hearted prison administration and the unbearable solitary confinement in the play pinpointed the said inhumanness. Moreover, John Galsworthy made this inhumane nature visible in such a way before a vast audience and readers that it impacted heavily.
Yes, the portrayal of the cruel rules and customs started facing severe criticism from people of all sections. The continuous successful staging of the play even helped conceive campaigns against the brutal system. Campaigns for amending the ongoing prison administration and bringing reforms to stop the practice of solitary confinement got momentum.
As a result, the British government got moved by the English dramatist’s sincere efforts and the voice of the common people. The staging of the prison scenes became a matter of everyday discussion. The authority felt the need for some quick reforms.
According to the historical data, solitary confinement got amended, and the time of imprisonment decreased to three months only. In addition, the three-month captivity was applicable only for the persistent offenders. And, for the minor crimes, it was at most one-month imprisonment.
So it is indeed evident that Galsworthy’s Justice played significant roles in bringing reforms in the prison administration. Also, it contributed appreciably to introducing some humanistic changes.
The best thing is the staging of the play increased peoples’ interest in observing and analyzing the social rules. They even felt the urge to watch the activities of the public organisations, like the prison administration and others.
It is a proven truth that the works of famous personalities always bring some beneficial impacts in human society. But, the history of the long list of playwrights and drama can’t show any substantial societal effects like those unlocked by Galsworthy’s Justice. Also, very few plays in the Victorian period described a social issue so minutely. Some literary experts even think that the English dramatist put some extra effort into making his words visible to the world. And this mode of expression pinpoints the saying that Justice looks unfolding social propaganda.