What  is the plot of Justice by John Galsworthy?

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John Galsworthy's 1909 play, ironically titled Justice, concerns the plight of 23-year-old William Falder, a junior clerk in the law firm of James How & Sons, who embezzles money from his employer, aiming to use it to free Ruth Honeywill, the woman he loves, from her wretched marriage. When the theft is discovered, his employer has him arrested.

Despite an eloquent defense by his attorney, Hector Frome, who cites the defendant's anguished contemplation of the fate of his beloved, due not only to the impossibility of her obtaining a divorce under current British law, but also to the very palpable chance that she could be murdered by her rage-filled husband, Falder receives a guilty verdict and is sentenced to a three-year prison term.

After he is released from prison, Robert Cokeson a sympathetic senior clerk at Falder's former firm, joins the ex-convict in pleading with his superior, James How, to re-hire him, since he has now paid his debt to society. To complicate matters, a beleaguered Ruth is admitted to the office, joining the two men in their plea. During this exchange, How reveals to Falder that Ruth has been living with another man, a shock to his already frail psyche. The play reaches it's climax as Detective-Sergeant Wister arrives, in search of Falder, who, having violated his parole, will likely be returned to prison. As Wister is leading him from the firm's offices, the desperate Falder leaps from a window to his death.

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The main characters in Justice, a play set in London in the early twentieth century, are:

  • William Falder: a junior clerk who loves Ruth Honeywell
  • Ruth Honeywell: an abused wife in love with Falder
  • Robert Cokeson: William's boss
  • James How and Walter How: partners in the law firm

In the play, William Falder is in love with Ruth Honeywell, an abused wife who fears for her life and the lives of her children. Falder steals money from his employers to enable him to run away with Ruth. Cokeson and Walter How discover the theft. Although Cokeson wishes to be merciful, Falder is tried, convicted, and imprisoned. Falder is released from prison and makes a brief visit to Cokeson, discussing his plan to flee to Canada with Ruth. Unfortunately, he did not check in with his parole officer, and is discovered by a detective. Rather than return to prison, Falder commits suicide by jumping out a window. 

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