Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Mrs. Dane

Mrs. Dane, a charming woman whose reputation is clouded. She finally is proved to be Felicia Hindemarsh, a notorious woman who had an affair with her employer while working as a governess, bearing him a child. As a result of the affair, the man became demented and his wife committed suicide. When faced with these facts, Mrs. Dane, who truly loves Lionel Carteret, is persuaded by his uncle to disappear from the young man’s life, lest she ruin it.

Lionel Carteret

Lionel Carteret, a young man madly in love with Mrs. Dane. He is the adopted son of Sir Daniel Carteret. He loves Mrs. Dane so much that he is willing to marry her even after he finds out about her past. When she disappears, he believes he will never know love or happiness again.

Sir Daniel Carteret

Sir Daniel Carteret, Lionel’s foster father and a jurist. He has known love himself, having been in love at one time with Lionel’s mother, then already married. Wishing to help his adopted son avoid tragedy, he investigates the rumors about Mrs. Dane and finds them true. He suppresses the facts, believing that the woman has suffered enough, but he persuades her to disappear from his adopted son’s life.

Mrs. Bulsom-Porter

Mrs. Bulsom-Porter, who hates Mrs. Dane because the latter is charming and physically attractive. She spreads gossip about Mrs. Dane and even hires a detective to try to find out about the woman’s past. Although her rumors are correct, no one will admit it; consequently, Mrs. Bulsom-Porter is forced to make a public apology.

James Risby

James Risby, Mrs. Bulsom-Porter’s nephew, who first tells his aunt that Mrs. Dane seems to be the notorious Felicia Hindemarsh. Later, he retracts his statements, believing that the woman—though definitely guilty—has suffered enough for her acts.

Lady Eastney

Lady Eastney, a friend of Mrs. Dane. She is attracted to Sir Daniel as a kind and just man. She accepts his proposal of marriage.

Janet Colquhoun

Janet Colquhoun, an attractive young woman with whom Lionel previously had been infatuated. She still loves him and promises him a bright future.


(Great Characters in Literature)

Cordell, Richard A. Henry Arthur Jones and the Modern Drama. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1968. Critical study of the playwright’s major works. Describes the genesis of Mrs. Dane’s Defence and comments on its characteristics as a well-made play; claims Jones succumbs to contemporary pressures that upheld a double standard of morality for men and women.

Dietrich, Richard F. British Drama 1890 to 1950: A Critical History. Boston: Twayne, 1989. Places Jones in the context of late nineteenth century British drama, highlighting his essential conservatism. Describes Mrs. Dane’s Defence as a problem play in which the author expertly counterpoints character.

Emeljanow, Victor. Victorian Popular Dramatists. Boston: Twayne, 1987. Chapter on Jones explains his popularity with nineteenth century audiences. Comments on the first production of Mrs. Dane’s Defence; asserts that Jones’s characters serve as mouthpieces for conventional British values.

Jenkins, Anthony. “Terrible Leanings Toward Responsibility.” In The Making of Victorian Drama. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Discusses Jones as one of seven influential nineteenth century British dramatists. Accuses him of succumbing to conventional morality in Mrs. Dane’s Defence; claims his defense of the façade of respectability places him on the side of those who believed in preserving traditional British values at all costs.

Taylor, John Russell. The Rise and Fall of the Well-Made Play. London: Methuen, 1967. One chapter discusses Jones’s career and the popularity his plays enjoyed at the beginning of the twentieth century. Calls Mrs. Dane’s Defence “one of the classics of English well-made drama”; analyzes the structure and explains why Jones fails to be convincing in his ending.