Dear Brutus

(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed

Will Dearth

Will Dearth, who in the drawing room is a shaky, watery-eyed relic of what was once a good man. An artist at one time, he and Alice Dearth had loved madly. In the woods, he is a successful artist and the father of a daughter named Margaret. He claims credit for all of his daughter’s charm, except her baby laugh; this she lost when he allowed her to lose perfect faith in him. Back in the drawing room, he grants that he is not the man he thought he was. The Dearths, probably the only ones to gain by their revelation, may be able to breast their way into the light.

Alice Dearth

Alice Dearth, Will’s wife. In the drawing room, she is a woman of fierce, smoldering desires. Hers is a dark but brave spirit, a kiss-or-kill personality. In the woods, she becomes a vagrant woman, a whimperer who warns Dearth to take good care of Margaret, for her kind is easily lost. Returned to the drawing room, she lies about what happened in the woods. Although she resents losing her might-have-been station as “the Honorable Mrs. Finch-Fallowe” and her husband’s contentment with a might-have-been daughter, Mrs. Dearth shares his present interest in painting. She will try for compatibility, despite her avowal that her husband will not get much help from her.


Margaret, who in the woods is a beautiful and bewitching young girl. Her knowledge that “they” will take Dearth away stands between her and Dearth, to cloud their joy.

Mabel Purdie

Mabel Purdie, in the drawing room a good companion for her philandering husband. Feigning other interests, she is apparently indifferent to his affair with a woman of their set. In the woods, she becomes a charmer who carries on passionately with her husband. Again in the drawing room, she sees her husband for what he is. Indifferent, she pledges to stay by him as long as she cares to bother.


(The entire section is 813 words.)


(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

Barrie’s thesis—that the exigencies of human life are the fault of the individual, not of so-called Fate—is fancifully developed in DEAR BRUTUS by means of a folk superstition concerning Midsummer Eve. The play is fantastic and realistic at the same time, fantastic in that its characters are transported into the realm of the unreal, realistic in the perfectly candid way in which the various relationships among the characters are set forth.


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The play opens in a drawing room at the manor of a rather mysterious character named Lob—not Mr. Lob, just Lob. The room itself is dark,...

(The entire section is 191 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Formally, Dear Brutus is a dramatic comedy. Complications are introduced in act 1, reversed in the magical woods in act 2, and...

(The entire section is 196 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Dear Brutus does not employ sensational or shocking devices. The plot does include mate-swapping and is therefore clearly in the...

(The entire section is 145 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Why does the play open in a darkened room?

2. Lob is described as a gnome-like character. What would such a character look...

(The entire section is 261 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Some critics think that Barrie has written in Dear Brutus a play of "charming but credible fantasy." By comparing Dear...

(The entire section is 308 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The characters in Dear Brutus are similar to those in other plays by Barrie. Barrie sometimes finds heroes and heroines among the...

(The entire section is 106 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Geduld, Harry. Sir James Barrie. New York: G.K. Hall, 1971. Geduld offers elaborate plot summaries of all the major works. Barrie's...

(The entire section is 204 words.)