(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

Robertson is famous in the history of nineteenth-century British drama for his efforts to introduce naturalism in dialogue, feeling, and situation. He felt that British drama needed plays which would reflect the life of the times without artificialities of plot and violence of passion. Critics failed to appreciate his pioneering in realistic drama, but the contemporary theatergoers patronized productions of his dramas in large numbers. To the reader of today, accustomed to extreme realism in both fiction and drama, Robertson’s plays seem rather conventional, unless one remembers that he was a pioneer and his work was revolutionary at the time. When compared to the drama of the 1920’s and later, the realism of CASTE may seem questionable, the stage business lacking in finesse, and the dialogue stilted. But in a historical analysis, plays like this are important for the changes they mark in the development of the drama.