(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Davies’ first novel, Tempest-Tost, draws heavily on his own involvement in community theatrical productions. While the novel uses multiple points of view, its protagonist is clearly Hector Mackilwraith, a lonely mathematics teacher who bravely chooses to vary the routine of his day-to-day existence by auditioning for a part in the Salterton Little Theatre production of The Tempest. Though he admonishes himself to “do nothing foolish,” the thought that he may soon be leaving Salterton for a different job encourages him to take the chance. His audition for the part of Gonzalo is not excellent, but he suggests that if he is not given a part, he will no longer serve in his essential role as treasurer of the Salterton Little Theatre. This production will be the company’s first outdoor production, to be performed at St. Agnes’s, an estate owned by George Alexander Webster.

Other important characters include Freddy (Fredegonde) Webster, the fourteen-year-old daughter of George Alexander Webster, and Griselda, her eighteen-year-old sister, with whom Hector becomes infatuated. As in a Shakespearean comedy, there are several other characters and relationships that provide a perspective on the story’s main action. Some characters involved with the Salterton Little Theatre seem designed to allow Davies to highlight, satirically, certain aspects of small-town life, and the conflicts, artistic and otherwise, that arise in local theater...

(The entire section is 572 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Grant, Judith Skelton. Robertson Davies: Man of Myth. Toronto: Viking, 1994.

La Bossière, Camille R., and Linda M. Morra, eds. Robertson Davies: A Mingling of Contrarieties. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2001.

Lawrence, Robert G., and Samuel L. Macey. Studies in Robertson Davies’ Deptford Trilogy. Victoria, British Columbia: University of Victoria, 1980.

Little, Dave. Catching the Wind in a Net: The Religious Vision of Robertson Davies. Toronto: ECW, 1996.

Stone-Blackburn, Susan. Robertson Davies, Playwright: A Search for the Self on the Canadian Stage. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1985.