How can I approach a brief summary of John Galsworthy's play Strife?
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The most important element in summarizing a Galsworthy play is to delineate the two sides of the social question he is dramatizing, since he starts with finding a serious conflict that has two equal sides. Unlike most dramatists, Galsworthy did not start his work by building an interesting character and giving it psychologically justified dramatic actions. Rather, he begins with the conflict (as Josh Logan says, “Drama is conflict!”) and then, after introducing a justifiable argument for both sides of the social question, finds characters to “humanize” the abstractions. In this play, the two points of view on the moral value of strikes, both the justifiable argument of the workers and the justifiable resistance of management, are stated in an imitation of the action of debate. A summary of the play should then outline how the actual characters articulate their points of view in dialogue, and what characters are on which side of the debate (for example, Enid’s role). Then break the play down into the Scribean structure – exposition, first complication, denouement, etc. – and show how the action maintains the uniquely Galsworthian balance that eschews taking sides. Galsworthy’s strength is in his ability to use stage language to concentrate the points of view into an entertainment.
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