Tom Broadbent, an English civil engineer. Large, healthy, and hearty, Broadbent is the “John Bull” (the traditional Englishman) of this comedy of national character. An unconscious hypocrite in the service of the Land Development Syndicate, for which he hopes to develop an estate (including tourist attractions) in Rosscullen, Doyle’s birthplace, he is nevertheless full of ingenuous hope that his English efficiency can lay balm to the wounds of the suffering and incompetent Irish. Irish Home Rule, he believes, will work wonders under English guidance, and he is ludicrously unaware of the contradiction. Having arrived in Rosscullen in act 2, he diverts the locals with his speechifying and his antics (he gives Matt Haffigan’s pig a ride in his motorcar, with predictably disastrous results), but he also wins nomination as their next candidate for Parliament. He also engages in a half-comic, whirlwind courtship of Nora, in whom he sees all the Irish graces he sentimentally wants to protect and indulge.
Laurence Doyle, Broadbent’s partner and housemate, an expatriate Irishman. Doyle is both typical and atypical. His Irish character was bred in the misty climate, which he says is the birthplace of grandiose and hopeless dreams that end in futile laughter and squalor. From this perception comes his fear of returning to Ireland and his people, though his friendship for Broadbent pushes him to do so. All of his adult life...
(The entire section is 613 words.)