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This play examines the meaning of the word “justice”, pitting the cold, remorseless legal meaning against the social injustice that come about when the law freezes its interpretation. From the start we see that Falder’s motives were honorable, but that his reasons for the forgery do not ameliorate the written punishment for such a crime, as least not in the eyes of the court. As Galsworthy dramatizes the excessive punishment (solitary confinement, indifference to his mental condition, etc.—especially in the mimed Act III Scene iii,--dramatized to show how the punishment does not fit the crime) we sympathize with Falder, but the Law sees his act as “taking the law into his own hands” (and makes the point that marriage is a law, no matter how destructive.) So the title point out the main dramatic conflict—is justice an abstract idea, an agreed-up set of cause-effect regulations, or a humanistic concept open to interpretation? The two final “injustices”—Ruth Honeywell’s degradation and Falder’s return to jail on a tick-of-leave (parole) technical violation—bring the title full round. As was always the case in the dramas of this period, the overplaying of the social dilemma had a social target and social consequences.
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