Character Sketch 1
Mrs. Meldon is a character from a play named Progress written by St. G. Ervine. The play was sent in 1919, just one year after the first World War. Mrs. Meldon was aged about forty-three. She is a sensitive looking widow. She was suffering deeply from her memories. She is not a fretful, complaining women who had suffered bereavement and when in the course of play, she speaks of her loss, she does so with grace and beautiful dignity. Her son was killed in the First World War and her husband died away out of heart failure. So she was the victim of adverse circumstances. She has a strong sense of tolerance.
Beginning of Her Role
Mrs. Meldon’s role started from the second scene when she returns from a long journey and her brother, Professor Henry Corrie, does not receive her at the station. It was the death anniversary of her only son, Eddie.
Qualities and Character
The qualities and the character of Mrs. Meldon as presented in play are:
A Dignitful Lady
Mrs. Meldon has a character full of dignity and grace. She is a lady who has faced the emotional sufferings of life. A woman having a compassionate, patient, gentle, sensitive and graceful appearance is what Mrs. Meldon looks like. She is dressed in black clothes, partly because she is a widow and mainly because it was the third death anniversary of her son. He dignity becomes apparent when she opines about war.
A Bereaved Widow and Mother
Eddie was her only son, killed in First World War. She had brought up her son with a great care and love. She wanted him to be great in future. Her son enlisted himself in war. She could not decide to be happy or sorry but chiefly she was happy. The sight of the messenger made her heart sink and she remained worry about her son. He came on his first and second leaves all safe but he did not come for third visit. He was killed in a moment by the men, who had never seen him. This was the most shocking news. Her husband could not bear it and died away out of heart failure. She remained all-alone in this miserable world.
“I some times wonder why I was not granted the mer of death. Why I should be compelled to live alone.”
The words of the play reflects her loneliness:
“ I had a husband and a son, when the war began, I had neither when it was over. I am the most lonely woman – cruelly alone.”
Her Hatred for War
She hated wars. She considered them as an organized butchery of the young ones. She though wars to be the most terrible thing, which was responsible for the destruction of human peace. She wanted ban on wars. She wanted the scientists to stop making dangerous weapons. This was the war, which made her widow and which snatches away her beautiful young son. She said:
“Yes, people with broad views, because you are fools. Some one like me, not clever, create beautiful things like my son, and you, will all your cleverness can only destroy it.”
A Brave Woman
Mrs. Meldon was a brave woman. In spite of losing all what she had, she bore the tragedy patiently. She always suffered from old memories, but never showed her bereavement. She behaved as a calm and uncomplaining person.
A Friend of Humanity
On knowing that her brother has invented a dreadful bomb, she becomes deeply grief. She opposed her brother and called him The Most Stupid Man on Earth. She cared for all the mothers as she had seen the fury of life. She wanted that other boys like Eddie must not fell prey to horrors of devastating wars. Mrs. Meldon, as a symbol of peace for all, did not rejoice at the wicked achievement of her brother. She perfectly reflected her friendship towards humanity.
“Love and Peace can make the world a Heaven.”
A Passionate Woman
Mrs. Meldon was an enthusiastic person. She becomes extremely emotional when her brother denies destroying his invention. When Professor tell his motives to her, her limit of patience and endurance gets crossed.
“It will bring me fame and fortune. I shall be rich now, but more than that I shall be famous.”
She grew extremely emotional and impulsive and in the interest of humanity. She takes the matter into her own hands. To save the human race from the deadly invention, she picks a knife and stabbed her cruel brother to death.
“To kill someone is also humanity, but only for the sake of a nation.”
Comments on Mrs. Meldon’s Act
Legally, Mrs. Meldon committed a crime by killing Professor Corrie. She did not have the right to commit such an act of madness. But on the other hand, her act seems to be justified for the sake of humanity. Sometimes a drastic and violent action becomes essential to crush wicked elements. In dismay, she said:
“Eddie, dear! I had to Eddie!
She exalts herself in our eyes and we begin to adore her as a protector of humanity.
She was really shocked to know that her brother has invented a bomb, which will destroy the whole nation within twinkling of any eye. She requested him that for the sake of young sons and for the sake of peace, he must destroy his invention. Her brother did not realize the intensity of her emotions and refused to destroy it for the sake of mere sentiments. So she killed him. In the end she saw the wreath of son ruined and out of sudden passion, she killed him and wins the sympathies of the readers.
Character Sketch 2
The author titles the play, The Progress ironically. He laughs at the attitude of war-mongers and the scientists who believe that they are contributing to the progress of science by inventing deadly weapons.
In Professor Corrie, the playwright has created a self-centered scientist aged between fifty and sixty who is a confirmed bachelor. His sole interest in life is his scientific experiments. He captivates our attention from the beginning till the end of the play. His wolfish snarls and physical features, speak a lot about his inhuman behaviour.
A Wicked Person
He felt pleasure in destruction. He wanted to make the wars horrible. He invented a dangerous bomb full of corrosive gas, which could obliterate whole cities within no time. He wished to make the war so horrible that no nation will engage in one unless absolutely driven to it. He said:
“With a single bomb, we could wipe out the population of a city as a big as Menchestar.”
As A Reputed Scientist
There is no doubt that Professor Corrie is a great scientist, who is extremely dedicated and devoted in his scientific experiments. When the curtain goes up, we find Professor Corrie engrossed in his experiment. His experiment is a success and he has succeeded in inventing a lethal and devastating bomb, which is so powerful that according to him:
“I’ve discovered a combination of explosives and gases that will obliterate thousands at once! Thousands.”
The above quoted words show the deep faith Corrie has in the destructive quality of the bomb and his cruel nature and inhuman behaviour.
As A Self-Willed Person
Professor Corrie is an extremely selfish and self-willed person. He is out and out a materialist. He has discovered the formula of the bomb to earn fame and fortune. He is delighted at the thought that his invention would make him famous and well-known all over the world. He did not care about the feeling of his sister wanted her rejoices his invention. He wished her to forget her tragedy and suggested taking a broad point of view. She must imagine herself a statesman. He said:
“Oh, a mother’s feelings, of course, but look at the matter from a broad point of view. Put you own feelings aside.”
As An Unpatriotic Person
Professor Corrie is crazy and unpatriotic. He wants to sell the formula of the bomb, to any government, which would pay him the highest price. As he says:
“I shall offer it first to the British Government, of course, but if they won’t pay my price, I shall offer it to somebody else.”
The above lines speak of his unpatriotism and greed for money.
As A Cruel And Heartless Person
Professor Corrie possesses a very cruel disposition. His eyes reflect the coldness and seriousness of his character. He is a devil in human form. To him human beings are of no consequence. Even his sister, Mrs. Meldon’s grief has no effect on him. Although he is aware that his sister is emotionally shattered by the death of her son, Eddie, yet he does not comfort or console her, at her tragic loss.
As An Enemy of Women
Professor Corrie is cynical about women and has a poor opinion of them. He thinks that women lack in concentration and have a fussy and talkative nature. That is why they are not very often crowned with success. According to him:
“Your sex is most extraordinary, Charlotte. Always willing to break off things, for other things. No application, no concentration, no capability for complete impersonal devotion.”
Corrie’s Desire For Immortality
Corrie was mad for immortality. That is why he invented the bomb. He hopes:
“This will bring fame and fortune to me. I shall be rich and now but more than that I shall be famous. My name will live forever.”
Corrie’s Tragic End
Mrs. Meldon is absolutely horrified, when she learns of his terrible invention. She repeatedly requested him to destroy the formula of the bomb. She says:
“Henry, I beg you to destroy your invention.”
Professor Corrie pays no attention to her, so Mrs. Meldon, in a state of frenzy, drove a sharp knife in his back. Corrie falls on his face, dead cold. Thus the curtain draws on the play, with his tragic end.