Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

In Plenty, David Hare’s characters serve as figures in a political allegory detailing the post-World War II moral and psychological decline of England, as represented by various characters in the play. In the midst of postwar optimism and “plenty,” both Susan and England are unable to adjust, to acclimate, to changing conditions. Susan may believe that there will be “days and days” of sunshine and promise, but her lucrative postwar advertising work is trivial. She wants to move on, to be productive, but she cannot get pregnant; her sterility reflects that of her generation and of England itself. Like England, she cannot accept her diminished power and control; her response is to withdraw through drugs and mental illness.

Raymond represents another England, as he lies battered and stripped at the beginning of the play. Though he has some reservations about English life (England looks a “trifle decadent” to him), he maintains his belief in privilege and property, and, like England, he resents the ingratitude and flight of those he has cared for paternalistically: “I’ve spent fifteen years of my life trying to help you. . . . I am waiting for . . . some sign that you have valued this kindness of mine.” When Susan tells him that she is leaving, he threatens to have her committed, thereby binding her to him in a kind of “commonwealth” status. Although he jokes about Darwin being “God’s joke . . . a modern Darwin who is in...

(The entire section is 541 words.)


(Drama for Students)

Duty and Responsibility
Much of the themes of duty and responsibility in Plenty revolve around social expectations and...

(The entire section is 1029 words.)