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Last Updated on May 14, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 585

Choices and Consequences
Hildy Johnson has to make several hard choices in the course of The Front Page—the most important choice being his old life or a new one. His new life means that he must leave his career behind in order to move to New York City with Peggy and her mother, get married, and work at an advertising agency. His old life is in the pressroom reporting the news.

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This choice results in many humorous situations. Hildy repeatedly puts off Peggy and her mother in order to pursue the Williams story. He almost loses his future several times because of this choice. At the end of The Front Page, Hildy chooses his new life over the old one by leaving with Peggy to go to New York City.

Because he makes this choice, Burns gives him his pocket watch and later arranges for Hildy’s arrest for stealing it. Thus the choice leads to an unexpected consequence.

Loyalty is a recurring theme in The Front Page. Despite their constant complaints, the reporters are loyal to their newspapers and their jobs. They do what it takes to get a story, and are content with their way of life. Even Hildy is loyal to his paper and Burns when the chips are down.

The criminal, Williams, is in trouble out of loyalty. A diehard anarchist who killed a police officer when the cop tried to take down his red flag on Washington’s Birthday, he does not mind dying for his cause. He believes it is the right thing to do. Mollie Malloy is so loyal to Williams that she jumps out of a window rather than compromise his hiding place in the press room.

In contrast, the Mayor and the Sheriff are loyal to their own self-interests. They believe that Williams’s execution will win them the African-American vote in the upcoming election (the officer he killed was black). They are so determined that when a reprieve is issued to stop the execution, they bribe the messenger, Pincus, to say it was never delivered.

All of these loyalties define the characters and their values. Hecht and MacArthur also use these loyalties to inspire humor and drama.

Several characters in The Front Page participate in deception. The primary example is when...

(The entire section contains 585 words.)

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Act Summaries