Question 01) Give a brief introduction of John Galsworthy.

Ans)John Galsworthy (1867-1933) was a distinguished novelist and playwright whose works contain a great deal of criticism of the British Society, particularly of the values of well to do professional class to which he himself belonged. He had strong sympathies with the unfortunate. He wrote a number of novels about the Forstyes, a fictional family of the upper middle class. The novelist Conrad, described him as a ‘humanitarian moralist’.

Question 02) Give a short description of the story “The Silver Box”.

Ans)The “Silver Box” is a powerful and bitter play. In a fit of drunken mischief Jack, the dissolute son of a highly respectable Mr.Barthick, a Liberal Member of Parliament, steals a purse from a woman. In a similar fit of drunken mischief Jones, the husband of Mr. Barthwick’s charwoman, steals the silver cigarette box and the purse. Mr. Barthwick is able to hush up his son’s crime while, the poverty stricken Jones is punished and his utterly innocent wife loses her job.

Question 03) What scene of London Police Court was presented in the play “Silver Box”?

Ans)The scene of London Police Court was presented in the play. A warm looking Magistrate was warming his coat tails before the fire. On the front bench were sitting Mr. Barthwick and Roper, and behind them Jack Barthwick. In the railed enclosure were the people of shabby and unhealthy appearance. Some prosperous constables sat on benches or stood about there.

Question 04) What were the names of two young sisters introduced in the first case?

Ans)The names of the two young sisters introduced in the play were Theresa Livens and Maud Livens.

Question 05) What story of the two little girls did the Reliving Officer tell before the Magistrate?

Ans)The Relieving Officer told that he found two little girls crying outside a public house. When he asked them about their home, they told they had no home, their mother had left them and their father was unemployed and not able to support them. They had slept last night in their aunt’s home but she also refused to keep them with her because of her poverty.

Question 06) What purpose, in your opinion, is served by beginning of the play with the case of the Livens girls, which has nothing to do with the main story?

Ans)The author John Galsworthy was an advocate of unfortunate and poor. The case of Livens girls though has no direct connection with the main story. The author only wanted to show the atmosphere of the court and the judicial process and to show that how the children of the poor suffer from poverty of their parents and injustice of the society.

Question 07) What function was Mr. Roper discharging in the Magistrate’s court?

Ans)Mr. Roper was a good and prosperous lawyer. Mr. Barthwick hired him to hush up the crime of his son. He was presented professional tricks in or the Magistrate’s court to show his professional tricks in order to suppress Jack’s involvement in the theft of a purse from a woman.

Question 08) What led the constable to arrest and charge Jones and Mrs. Jones?

Ans)Robert Snow, a detective, went to make inquiry for Mrs. Jones. When he entered the house, he found silver cigarette box there. He charged Mrs. Jones and tried to take her in the custody but her husband came in, assaulted the constable, and asked to let her release as he admitted to take the box himself. In this situation, the constable was compelled to charge and arrest husband and wife.

Question 09) Briefly give the probable reasons for the Magistrate’s decision to discharge Mrs. Jones?

Ans)Mrs. Jones was an innocent woman and she took no part in the theft of silver box, so she was discharged on the following reasons.

i .She said simply again and again that she had not taken the box. She also explained the truth of finding the box from the pocket of her husband’s coat.

ii.The magistrate came to know fully after the statements of Jones and Jack Barthwick that there was no hand of Mrs. Jones in stealing the box.

iii. Jones had himself accepted the crime.

Question 10) Briefly discuss whether the Magistrate gave Jones a fair trial.

Ans)The end of the play, “Silver Box’, makes it evident that the Magistrate was partial and he acted under pressure of the rich and influential fellow, Mr. Barthwick, M.P. He failed to do justice to the poor fellow, Mr. Jones and sent him to jail for taking the silver box from Mr. Barthwick’s house under the influence of wine. The shocking thing about the unfair attitude of the Magistrate was that in spite of protest and demand by Mr. Jones, he did not take any action against the young son of Mr. Barthwick. The boy took a purse of a lady in the same night under the effect of wine and carried it home. It showed that the magistrate was not fair at all and he did not treat the rich and the poor alive and violated justice.

Question 11) What do you imagine to be the unspoken plea that Mrs. Jones makes to Mr. Barthwick at the very end?

Ans)Mrs. Jones turned to Mr. Barthwick with a humble gesture for appealing to engage her again as a charwoman at his house. But he made a gesture of refusal and went out of the court.

Question 12) Why were Mr. Barthwick and his son so anxious that as little as possible should be said in court about the purse and the money that Jones had in possession?

Ans)Mr. Barthwick and his son were scared that the detailed discussion of the purse in the court would become against them. the Magistrate would come to know about the crime of Jack Barthwick. If it happened, it would become the same offence for Jack for which Jones was being trialed. If something happened, the political career and influences of Mr. Barthwick would be degraded in public. On thinking about such a condition, they were anxious.

Question 13) summary  

Ans)Introduction of Author and the Lesson

The play “Silver Box” is written by John Galsworthy who was an eminent and elegant novelist and playwriter. John is a satirist and as best an ironist likes H.G Wells. As a writer his greatest contribution to the philosophy of his period is his advocacy of socialism. In plays and short stories he has advocated an equitable distribution of wealth. The dramas such as ‘Strife’ and ‘The Silver Box’ are an effort on the part of the writer to warn the English nation that if the condition of the poor was not bettered there was every danger of civil maladjustment.

“The Silver Box” is powerful and bitter play. Through the character of James, the author criticizes the British Society in which the rich are favoured by the law and poor are subjected to the slings and arrows of injustice.

Mr. Barthwick was the member of the parliament. He posed himself as a social reformer who seemed to have great sympathy and companion for the poor and down trodden people.

In drunken state, his dissolute son Jack Barthwick stole a lady’s purse. He returned home at the dead of night. James Jones, a poor and jobless person happened to pass near the house of Mr. Barthwick. He saw jack trying to find the key–hole on the wrong side of the door. He helped the gentleman in unlocking the door. Jack invited him to have a drink. Jones drank whisky excessively and under the influence of it, he stole a silver box and the same purse stolen by Jack.

In the morning, Thomas Mailowe, butler to Barthwick found the silver box missing. He was sent to police station to lodge the report to theft. The police acted promptly and arrested Jones along with his innocent wife who was employed as charwoman in the house of Barthwick. She was taken into custody because the police suspected her owing to the scandal. She lost her job and had to vacate the house she lived in.

Jones was brought to book and tried in the court of law for stealing the silver box and making assault on the police. Mr. Jones told the court that he didn’t steal the box but he took it from the house of Mr. Barthwick under the influence of wine. He said the young son of Mr. Barthwick, Jack Barthwick invited him to have a drink and smoke with him. Then Jack Barthwick permitted him to take with him whatever he liked. The poor fellow insisted that he committed no crime. He is absolutely innocent. Mr. Jones not only explained his own position but also exposed the similar act committed by young Jack Barthwick on the same night and in the same situation. He demanded of the magistrate to deal with the son of a rich man in the same fashion.

This is actually the zenith of the play. The author intends to bring the hidden but evident influence of Mr. Barthwick’s social position into light besides the violation of justice by the Magistrate. The Court purely gave justice on a biased scale taking the high status of the other accused into account. Mr. Jones revealed that Jack Barthwick stole the purse of a lady on the same night under intoxicated condition. The Magistrate didn’t heed it. This clearly shows that he had been either bribed or influenced the social position of Jack’s father.

“He who commits injustice is ever more wretched than he who suffers it” --(Plato)

He was sentenced to one month prison with hard labour. Jack, who committed an identical crime, was not taken to task; his father being influential got the case hushed up. Thus a poor family was ruined completely. Through this play, Galsworthy makes a fine piece a satire on the degradation of moral values in the contemporary society. It is rightly said:

“All are to be tan erred with the same brush of Law,

Laws grind a poor and the rich rule of the Law.”