What is the critical analysis of the play "The Hour of Truth" by Percival Wilde?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The play "The Hour of Truth " by Percival Wilde can be appreciated from the stylistic perspective as a concise, round, and dynamic one-act play.

The concise nature of the play is found in the complex simplicity of Mr. Baldwin's case. The problem of the story is well-defined: Mr. Baldwin has to choose between being honest or being dishonest. That is the simple part of the problem. The complexity within lies in that his choice will affect the life of his boss. There is also complexity in that he is offered bribe money, and his family shows greed when they suddenly decide that it is OK to lie for 100,000 dollars.

The play is round because the main problem of the character gets discovered, resolved, and something positive comes out of the entire experience. Mr. Baldwin stuck to his values, his boss admired this instead of feeling betrayed, and Mr. Baldwin gets rewarded with a great job as a result of his integrity as a man and as a professional. This change of pace from bad energy to good energy is also what makes the play dynamic.

Thematically speaking, we find that the theme of the story, greed and its effects on individuals, has been creatively and realistically treated by using characters that are everyday individuals: A working man, his family, his boss, and the system. These are necessary elements in the life of the typical American citizen, which is what Wilde intends to portray in his main character.

Finally, from an aesthetic and stylistic perspective, the one-act play is more powerful at presenting the morale of the play by given less time to whimsical detailing and more power to the intense dialogue and themes.

Overall, "The Hour of Truth" gives honor to its title by showing how one event can suddenly change the normal course of life forever.