The Corn Is Green

by Emlyn Williams
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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 554

Miss Lily Christabel Moffat

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Miss Lily Christabel Moffat, the founder of a school for miners’ children in Wales. An unmarried, middle-aged Englishwoman, Miss Moffat is characterized by her direct, honest, and friendly manner. She is well-educated, well-read, intelligent, and tireless. Her unsentimental, businesslike approach to life makes her an anathema to the local squire, who, along with the other locals, opposes her idea of educating the illiterate children of the village. Miss Moffat wins over the community through her sincere concern and energetic devotion to the students, even manipulating the squire into supporting her efforts to win a scholarship to Oxford for Morgan Evans.

Morgan Evans

Morgan Evans, a young coal miner. Fifteen years old at the beginning of the play, Evans is the quick, impudent ringleader of the young miners who come to Miss Moffat’s school. He proves himself to be an extraordinarily gifted student and becomes the focus of Miss Moffat’s obsession with bettering the lot of the village children. His strong spirit rebels against Miss Moffat’s strict control, and his career is almost ruined by a brief liaison with Bessie Watty.

Miss Ronberry

Miss Ronberry, a Welsh gentlewoman of no particular occupation. Entrapped by her own ideas of the proper role of a woman, at the age of thirty Miss Ronberry is still seeking a husband from among the suitable male gentry, and her looks are becoming sharp and hard. Her genteel observance of class distinctions (as signaled by speaking English instead of Welsh), her sentimental view of life, and her traditional attitudes about women put her in the squire’s camp, yet she is so overwhelmed by the strong will of Miss Moffat that she cannot refuse to become involved in teaching the children.

John Goronwy Jones

John Goronwy Jones, a churchgoing village handyman. Even though he claims to be saved by his religion, Jones remains gloomy, intense, and discontented. Born the son of a grocer, Jones has been educated at the local grammar school but still cannot surmount class distinctions, so that he belongs neither to the gentry nor to the working class. Even though he resents English domination of Wales and retains his native language, he responds eagerly to Miss Moffat’s idea of a school and teaches the younger children.

The squire

The squire, an Englishman and the most prominent citizen of the village. A handsome gentleman of forty, the squire enjoys his social superiority and power over the lower classes (miners and women). He is deeply offended by Miss Moffat’s ideas and manner and uses his influence to thwart Miss Moffat’s school. In spite of his vanity and stubbornness, however, he is kind and generous. Miss Moffat cleverly appeals to his pride and wins his support.

Mrs. Watty

Mrs. Watty, Miss Moffat’s housekeeper, a middle-aged Cockney woman with an illegitimate daughter and a questionable past. She bustles about taking care of Miss Moffat with efficiency and kindness. She is an enthusiastic convert to The Militant Righteous Corps.

Bessie Watty

Bessie Watty, the fourteen-year-old illegitimate daughter of Mrs. Watty. Plump and pretty, Bessie aspires to be ladylike, without success. She loathes the country school life she is forced to lead and longs for her former tawdry London life. She seduces Morgan Evans, becomes pregnant, and is bought off by Miss Moffat.

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