Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Inadmissible Evidence provides “evidence” that could not come before a court in which a man was being charged with the “obscenity” of merely being. The play chronicles two days in the life of Bill Maitland, whose self-destructiveness and self-deprecation bring about his isolation from a society with which he is at odds. As the play progresses, Bill’s personal and professional lives reach their nadir: His women desert him and his associates abandon him, leaving him alone to await the arrival of “someone”—perhaps the Law Society, which will prosecute him for legal improprieties. Thus, the ending of the play fulfills in part the dream beginning of the play.

John Osborne ties Bill’s isolation and impending breakdown to a failure to relate and communicate, a recurrent theme in his plays. The society that Bill scorns is insensitive, bent on subduing the world and achieving technological progress and affluence without regard to human cost. Bill maintains that a “clattering brute of a computer” will replace lawyers: “There’ll be no more laws’ delays, just the insolence of somebody’s office.” By having Bill paraphrase part of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, Osborne suggests ties between the two tragic protagonists: both rail against corrupt societies, both seem afflicted with a malaise that prevents meaningful constructive action, and both alienate those whom they love. Though Bill demands love, he cannot give it or express...

(The entire section is 551 words.)

Inadmissible Evidence Themes

Objectification as a Defense Mechanism
The play explores how objectification, which occurs when someone is regarded as...

(The entire section is 463 words.)