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Admirable Crichton, The

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: 110A Piccadilly to Nelson Algren Biography

a play by James Barrie, first performed in 1902. A prominent peer, Lord Loam, his daughters, and others are shipwrecked on a desert island, where English social divisions quickly prove themselves irrelevant. The butler, Crichton, takes command, Loam becomes a ‘jolly-looking labouring man’, and others find the level their abilities decree. But just as Loam's eldest daughter, Lady Mary, has gratefully accepted Crichton's proposal of marriage, rescuers appear to take the group back home, where the traditional relationships reassert themselves. ‘You are the best man among us’, Lady Mary tells Crichton. ‘On an island, my lady perhaps; but in England, no’, he replies, provoking the riposte, ‘then there is something wrong with England’. Barrie's view, too, would seem to be that status and talent are often at odds in class-bound Britain; and, though the tone of the play is gentle and humorous, it may be seen as an example of the socially aware drama which, thanks to the efforts of Shaw, Granville-Barker, Galsworthy, and others, was to become increasingly evident in the Edwardian period.

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