John Galsworthy

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Plays by John Galsworthy

Strife

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Strife charts the progress of an industrial strike at the Trenartha Tin Plate Works, dealing with the fanatical antagonism between industrial workers and those who are determined to remain their masters. The play’s structure is intended to present an impartial balance between the forces of revolt and conservatism, describing the fierce stalemate from both the workers' and the directors' points of view.

On the one hand there is the dynamic, white-haired John Antony, who dominates the Board of Directors with his fixed ideas of class supremacy; on the other, David Roberts is the passionate and righteous orator who leads the strikers through the struggle. As starvation threatens the families of the strikers, the relationships of the women on either side of the dispute falter across the class divide.

Galsworthy’s patterned naturalism leaves the argument carefully poised and ultimately unresolved, as the vehement ideologies of each side are eventually defeated by the negative, reductive force of compromise. But the power of his characters is designed to resonate beyond their circumstances as portraits of absolute extremism. The play was first produced in 1909 at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London.

John Galsworthy (1867-1933) was an English novelist and dramatist. Having begun to write in his twenties for his own amusement, he later adopted a more considered approach. His earlier works, published under the pseudonym John Sinjohn, were withdrawn and The Island Pharisee (1904) instated as his first important work.
The Forsyte Saga (1906-1921) is Galsworthy's most famous novel: a lengthy examination of an upper-middle class family, its scope, and impact earned Galsworthy the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1932.
Galsworthy was also renowned for his drama. His plays, often social in nature, were monuments of technical skill and execution. Justice (1910), his most famous play, examined the double standards of the English justice system and led to prison reform in the country.