Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Mr. Smith

Mr. Smith, an utterly boring, illogical husband living in the suburbs of London. He discusses inconsequential trivia with his wife and with their guests, the Martins, then subsequently with the fire chief. Mr. Smith does not engage in genuine communication with his wife; they do not listen to each other. His absence of rational arguments and his numerous fallacies are satirized. These include sweeping generalization, ignoring the question, circular reasoning, faulty argument by analogy, non sequitur, oversimplification, and faulty assumptions. He frequently makes contradictory statements. His reference to all the members—both men and women—of a large, extended family having the name Bobby Watson satirizes lack of individuality and the blurring of sex lines. He refers to someone as a “living corpse,” reflecting the author’s view that the characters in the play are, indeed, living corpses.

Mrs. Smith

Mrs. Smith, a middle-class housewife married to Mr. Smith. She opens the play by discussing the three helpings she and her husband each had at dinner, gluttony thus being satirized. She often misuses words. Her topics of conversation are utterly trivial. She turns the conversation quickly to death. She, like her husband, abounds in illogical arguments. She criticizes men as effeminate only to have Mr. Smith counter that women are doing masculine things, such as drinking whiskey.


Mary, the maid at the Smiths’ house. She enters, stating the obvious, that she is their maid, as if they did not know. Having been given permission by Mrs. Smith to go out for the afternoon, she, on returning, finds the Smiths’ dinner guests at the door, waiting for Mary to return home: They did not dare enter by themselves. When the Smiths leave to change...

(The entire section is 749 words.)