(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

In scene 1, Professor Leopold Nettles sits on the couch in his living room, watching the front door. After a while he walks to the door, peers through its peephole, and listens at the door as if expecting someone; he appears tense. After a long pause, the curtain drops.

Scene 2 repeats scene 1 exactly. Scene 3 begins in the same way, but it continues until the doorbell rings and Nettles jumps. After he recognizes the man at the door, he opens the door and Edward, his friend and his wife’s companion, enters. The two engage in small talk, mostly about Leopold’s digestion and nerves; Edward expresses concern that Leopold is drinking too much and that he has not gone outside in some time. Suzana, Leopold’s wife, returns from shopping and asks Leopold about his activities of the day. He details his morning’s tidying and fixing of breakfast. Suzana chastises him for eating his eggs with a silver teaspoon. She then leaves, and Leopold and Edward resume their conversation. Leopold appears very anxious and concerned that he will soon be arrested, although he does not reveal where he thinks he will be taken or by whom.

The doorbell rings again, startling Leopold. Two workers from a paper mill, First Sidney and Second Sidney, whom Nettles met two years ago but had forgotten, have come to request that Leopold take some sort of action, described only in the vaguest of terms. The two Sidneys declare themselves fans of Leopold and claim that many people are looking to him for direction. The doorbell rings again, and Lucy, Leopold’s mistress, enters; the ensuing conversation repeats much of what has already been said. The two Sidneys, having overstayed their welcome, eventually leave, promising to return with writing paper and imploring Leopold to maintain his courage. When Leopold and Lucy are finally alone, Lucy also encourages Leopold to resume his writing and suggests that her love should be an inspiration to him. Leopold remains unresponsive, and the curtain falls.

When scene 4 begins, it is night. Leopold’s friend Bertram is sitting on the sofa. Like Edward in scene 3, he asks Leopold about his drinking and his nerves and alludes to Leopold’s inactivity. He repeats that many people are concerned about Leopold, and, like the two Sidneys, presents...

(The entire section is 934 words.)