Galsworthy's play examines the injustice of the British penal system. In the drama, a solicitor's clerk named William Falder forges a check to protect his married sweetheart, Ruth Honeywill, from her abusive husband. In forging the check, Falder had hoped to escape with Ruth and her children and spare her the abuse of her husband. The system is rigged against the couple, as Falder is sentenced to prison, and Ruth cannot divorce her husband. Falder suffers in solitary confinement in prison, and Ruth lives with another man because she can't support herself otherwise. In the end, Falder, facing a return to prison when he does not report for his parole, winds up killing himself.
The play asks the audience to grapple with whether justice has been truly meted out to Falder and Ruth. While Falder is punished for a small and justified infraction, the punishment itself causes misery and suffering. Is justice so blindly administered truly fair? As the play speaks about the nature of justice and the injustice of the penal system, it deserves its name.