Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

The Corn Is Green brings out a number of social issues which, although presented in a late nineteenth century context, were still relevant to the audiences of the 1930’s. Through Miss Moffat’s zeal for education, the play becomes a lively protest against the conditions of the Welsh mining communities and their lack of educational opportunity. “Round here,” says Mr. Jones, “they are only children till they are twelve. Then they are sent away over the hills to the mine, and in one week they are old men.” Although conditions had improved by the 1930’s, it remained extremely difficult for working-class youngsters to get to university, and for a miner’s son to get to Oxford was a rare phenomenon indeed.

The playwright’s indictment of Britain as a class-divided society—an aspect of British life seldom touched on in prewar mainstream drama—is apparent throughout the play and reaches its most explicit point with Miss Moffat’s spirited attack on the Squire:You are the Squire Bountiful, aren’t you? Adored by his contented subjects, intelligent and benignly understanding, are you? I should just like to point out that there is a considerable amount of dirt, ignorance, misery and discontent abroad in this world, and that a good deal of it is due to people like you.

Miss Moffat herself, arriving by bicycle—a symbol, in the late nineteenth century, of women’s independence—is a sympathetic, if somewhat limited...

(The entire section is 440 words.)