Last Updated on May 10, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 850
Scilla Todd, a London International Financial Futures Exchange (LIFFE) dealer, a job that is out of keeping with her sex and her upbringing. An initially caring but also highly ambitious young woman, she undertakes a quest to find Jake’s murderer that ends in her corruption; she becomes greedy,...
(The entire section contains 850 words.)
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- Critical Essays
Scilla Todd, a London International Financial Futures Exchange (LIFFE) dealer, a job that is out of keeping with her sex and her upbringing. An initially caring but also highly ambitious young woman, she undertakes a quest to find Jake’s murderer that ends in her corruption; she becomes greedy, amoral, and cunning. She is a victim of a paternalistic and capitalistic British society in which gender and class lines are being challenged in ways that promise a future that is even bleaker, devoid of any sense of morality or responsibility toward others. She gives up on finding Jake’s killer, cuts herself in on his action, and is named as Wall Street’s rising star by Business Week.
Jake Todd, Scilla’s brother and a commercial paper dealer who has the whistle blown on him for dealing in insider information in the stock market. He is killed before he has a chance to talk, and almost every character in the play, including his father, has sufficient motive to be under suspicion. A public-school boy, he is typical of the new generation of young Brits who are challenging the old class system and succeeding. He bases his power on money and threats.
Greville Todd, Scilla and Jake’s father and a stockbroker. Part of the English “good old boy” system, he is a pompous hypocrite who is concerned with appearances and with protecting his class and his female family members from the new breed of traders. He sells out to these very people, however, to obtain more money. Consequently, he is the only trader sacrificed by the Tories to avert a further scandal.
Zac Zackerman, a brash Jewish banker from New York who supplies various methods of creative financing so that companies can succeed in hostile takeovers. Representing everything that the British establishment hates, he is nevertheless invited to hunts and homes because the upper class is in such need of money that it will tolerate those who can provide it.
Jacinta Condor, a Peruvian tin mining heiress who goes to London to convert her family’s ill-gotten wealth into Eurobonds. Probably the most intelligent character in the play, she uses her wit and attractiveness to swindle every British and American male of every class that she encounters, except for Zac. They are equals in their predatory natures, which results in a comic sexual scene in which each is turned on by the wheeling and dealing of the other. They eventually marry.
Billy Corman, called William the Conqueror, a corporate raider who is out to take over and break up Albion, an old-fashioned company with an excellent record of social involvement and management. After being accused in the papers of being a “profiteering robber,” he is advised by his public relations person to cultivate the arts and indulge in a sex scandal because then the British public will become sympathetic. He becomes a lord.
Marylou Baines, an American risk arbitrageur, a person who buys and sells large amounts of stock, keeping the market liquid and making takeovers much easier. She is a woman who succeeds in a man’s world by being tougher and more ruthless than they are. She responds to news of Jake’s death by ordering her personal assistant to shred any documents from him. She runs for president in 1996.
Frosby, the oldest friend of Greville Todd and a member of the City, London’s financial center. A choral figure, he is nostalgic about the way the class and financial system used to be. He is the one who informs on Jake, setting off the chain reaction of financial manipulations that almost results in a stock market crash akin to the one in the United States. He commits suicide because his “way of life is at an end.”
Nigel Ajibala, an importer from Ghana. Like Jacinta, he swindles and robs his own people to make himself rich. He tricks Corman and disappears with a large amount of money.
Mrs. Etherington, a stockbroker with a reputation for integrity. She is used as a front for notorious raiders such as Corman in exchange for considerable profit.
Duckett, the chairman of Albion, known for fair and effective management and a commitment to the community. He is ruined by the government’s blocking of the Corman takeover. He suffers a nervous breakdown.
Ms. Biddulph, a white knight for Duckett. In exchange for a company of her own, she will step in and guarantee the security of his job when Corman takes over.
Soat, the president of Missouri Gumballs. In a counterplay by Klein and Merrick, a stockbrokerage firm, this small-town entrepreneur acquires Corman Enterprises and “a dangerous reputation.”
Gleason, a cabinet minister. Concerned about an upcoming election and the fate of his party—and, by implication, Margaret Thatcher—he forces Corman to give up the takeover bid because it makes the City and the government look “greedy.”
Durkfeld, co-chief executives of Klein and Merrick.