Critical Evaluation

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Arthur Wing Pinero was one of the pioneers of psychological realism. He addressed the plight of women in unhappy marriages. His best-known play, The Second Mrs. Tanqueray (1893), preceded Mid-Channel by sixteen years and made Pinero’s reputation as a serious playwright. Both plays are examples of the idea play, which centers on a societal issue.

The Second Mrs. Tanqueray deals with a frustrated marriage and ends in the suicide of Paula Tanqueray. The two plays have much in common, especially in their treatment of women. Both plays address the problems women encounter in marriage, but the solution to their problems leaves much to be desired: They both escape the marriage through suicide. This reflects the limited choices of women in England at the time. In Mid-Channel, Zoe Blundell has sinned and therefore must die. This illustrates the double standard; Theodore Blundell and Leonard Ferris have also sinned but they are able to redeem themselves. The blame for the unhappy marriage is placed upon Zoe although Theodore walks out on her. Zoe feels that she should have children, and many critics during the first run of the play said this was the primary reason for the Blundells’ disastrous marriage. A marriage without children, after all, cannot be happy. The fact that the Blundells had no children was actually Theodore’s fault because he told Zoe he did not want any children. Now that the Blundells are comfortable and...

(The entire section is 432 words.)