Questions and Answers ~ Progress By St. John G.Ervine

PROGRESS (St. John G.Ervine)

Q: 1 Does the physical appearance of Professor Henry Corrie depict his true nature?
No, his physical appearance does not depict his true nature. To a casual visitor, he seems to be a harmless, kindly, inconsequent person, completely absorbed in his work. It is when he is angry that his true nature surfaces. He becomes cruel, cold and insensitive to others’ feelings and considers his experiments more important than humans. 

Q: 2 “Time will bring fame and fortune to me. I shall be rich now, but more than that, I shall be famous. My name will live forever.” What characteristic of the speaker is revealed in this speech?

Professor Henry Corrie utters the words. The utterance reveals his greed for fame and money. He is ambitious man. His ambition is to get as much as possible from his evil invention, and he wants to be remembered as his predecessor Mill, whose bombs were used in the previous war. He hopes that his fame will exceed Mill’s fame and invention will prove to be more destructive than Mill’s invention. 

Q: 3 Who is Charlotte and what role does she play?

Charlotte is Prof. Henery Corrie’s sister. She marries Tom Meldon and comes to be known as Mrs Meldon. Her role in the play is the vital importance and stands as a contrast to her brother’s role. It is the conflicting ideas of Mrs Meldon and brother Prof Corrie that give play the turns and twists that the play takes. Without her character, there will be no appeal in the play. She stands for peace and humanity and flights the evilness and meanness of her brother who is bent upon destroying humanity by discovering means of making wars horrible and devastating.


Q: 4 What has Professor invented? or Write three sentences about it.


The Prof has invented the formula of a very destructive bomb. He claims that his invention will revolutionize warfare. It will devastate a wide track of land where it falls; furthermore, it will release a poisonous gas that will make the bodies of those who inhale it, rot before their death. The bomb will obliterate thousands at once. Thus, his invention is not only extremely horrible, but is a means of ending war, almost as quickly as it began. 

Q: 5 Why does Professor think that “the wars will never end”?
The Prof thinks that the wars will never end because it is man’s nature to flight. Man, by nature, is very aggressive; he likes to fight and aspires to have supremacy over his opponents. This aggression leads to wars. 

Q: 6 What plans does Professor have for his invention?
The Professor’s plan is to offer his invention to the British government first, but if the government does not pay his demanded price then he will sell it to any other government. He plans to earn a handsome amount of money and from the invention. 

Q: 7 What are Professor Henry Corrie’s views about women?
Prof. does not think well about women. He thinks that they are fussy; they cannot concentrate; they have no capacity for complete, impersonal devotion, and that is why no women have ever been great artists or scientists. 

Q: 8 Why does Professor Henry call his invention a “humanitarian invention”?
According to Prof. Corrie, man, by nature, is very aggressive; he will always be at war with his opponents. He is one of those who believe that if weapons are made very destructive and horrible then countries will avoid plunging in to war unless it becomes necessary. Thus, the fear of destructive weapons will save humans. As his invention is also a destructive weapon, so he calls his invention a ‘humanitarian invention‘ 

Q: 9 Who was Eddie and what happened to him?
Eddie was Mrs. Meldon’s beloved son and Prof. Henry Corrie’s nephew. He was the child and was brought up with great love and care. He became a soldier and was sent to the battlefield where he died. His death caused much grief to his mother. To add insult to injury she learnt that her son’s body was blown to pieces by a piece of shell that fell in to the trench where he was sitting, and he was never buried. 

Q: 10 “ I was saying this invention of mine will revolutionize warfare.”Who makes this claim and how will it happen?
The claim of revolutionizing warfare is made by Prof Henry Corrie. According to Prof Corrie, the aim of war is to kill; he believes that his bomb will kill or obliterate thousands of people. This massacre will take place not in months or years, as it used to happen in the past, but in seconds. Thus, the bomb will make war not only stupendously horrible, but will end it almost as quickly as it began. 

Q: 11 “What is organized butchery of boys” in the eyes of Mrs. Meldon?
Mrs. Meldon hates wars. When she loses her son in a war, her hatred for it increases. She calls it “an organized” way of killing the youth of a country. Mrs. Meldon calls the killing of young soldiers in war ‘butchery’ because they are killed in a brutal manner. There is no mercy, no decency in their; the soldiers do not know why they are killing; or why they are being killed. 

Q:12 What did Mrs. Meldon learn about her son on his third death anniversary?
On the third anniversary of her son’s death, she came to know how her son was killed in the battle-field three years ago. At that time, the C.O. informed her that her son was killed by a piece of shell and buried behind the line somewhere. Then she learned that it was not true. A soldier from Eddie’s battalion told her that Eddie and four other soldiers were sitting in a shallow trench when a bomb came in to the middle of them, and all five soldiers were blown to pieces. Nothing was left of their bodies to be buried. That came to her as a shock. 

Q:13 What price does Professor Henry Corrie think of setting for his invention?
The Prof. Corrie thinks of setting a very high price of his invention because he considers it a very valuable invention, extremely necessary if a country wants to win a war. He thinks of demanding a couple of hundred thousand pounds and a peerage for his invention from the British government. 

Q: 14. “Why not say thirty pieces of silver?  or  Who said these words and why?
Mrs. Meldon said these words sarcastically when her brother insisted upon her to help him set a price for his invention. The words remind the readers of a Biblical event about Jesus Christ. He was betrayed by one of his followers, Judas Iscariot for only thirty silver coins. Similarly, Professor Henry Corrie had betrayed his own kind by inventing a weapon to bring harm to humankind, so the price should be the same. Thirty pieces of silver is the price that benefits a traitor. 

Q: 15 What does Mrs. Meldon want her brother to do with his invention?
Why?
She wants her brother not to sell his invention to anyone; rather she wants him to destroy the dangerous and destructive invention because she is a peace lover and wants peace to prevail. Furthermore, her hatred for war has increased due to the loss of her beloved in the First World War.

Q: 16 What did Mrs. Meldon do when her brother refused to listen to her entreaties?
When her brother refused to listen to her entreaties to destroy the invention, she took the task of destroying the invention upon herself. She smashed his apparatus, but was told by her brother that the formula was still safe in his mind, and she had just made a mess on the floor. Obsessed by the passionate feeling that somehow or the other, the dreadful invention must be destroyed; she picked up a knife and attacked her brother. To destroy the invention, she had to kill the inventor. 

Q: 17 Draw a contrast between Professor Henry Corrie and Mrs. Meldon’s character.
Professor Henry Corrie is a brilliant scientist who has just invented a very dangerous bomb. He makes the bomb for fame and money. He is insensitive to the suffering and feelings of others. Whereas, Mrs. Meldon is an ordinary, commonplace woman. She has deep love for her son as well as her husband. She feels sympathy for all those people who have lost their loved ones in war, whether English or Germans. She believes in universal peace. 

Q: 18 Do you think that Mrs. Meldon was justified in her action?
Refute or Justify.
I think Mrs. Meldon was not justified in killing her brother. The crime had not been committed; but had the crime been taken place still she had no right to kill him. She saved thousands of young boys/people from a horrible death, death like Eddie. However, no court of law gave her the right to do that. Morally too, she was wrong. On humanitarian grounds, we can say that she did the right thing in saving thousands of human beings. But every life must be respected, and she herself committed a crime by taking a life. 

Q: 19 Can the play “Progress” be called a melodrama?
Yes, this short play can be called a melodrama. Chamber’s Dictionary defines a melodrama as “a kind of romantic and sensational drama, crude, sentimental, and conventional, with strict attention to poetic justice and happy endings.” In this drama, the element of thrill and suspension is there; furthermore, the author has done the poetic justice.

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