William Morris, The Tables Turned (1887)
What is the genre of this work? (comic farce, agitprop)
What were some of the purposes intended for this skit/play in 1887? (entertainment, group enterprise, cheer for a disheartened and small group who faced police persecution)
What may be some ways in which incidents or features of the play were influenced by its intended audience?
How is humor used throughout? (satire, comic reversal, unintentional self-incrimination)
What has been Mary Pinch's crime? (none, accused of stealing bread) What is the effect of the three witnesses' testimony against her?
Which police practices are made the butt of jokes? Are these jokes likely unfair, given the practices of the time? Are these scenes of any relevance today?
What journalistic practices are satirized? What features of administrative rhetoric? What point does Morris make about the basis of upper class fear of revolution? (wildly exaggerated)
What is the effect of the use of slang by lower class persons? (resistence)
How does the play use naming and names
How does the play use naming and names to make its points? (Pinch, Nupkins, Freeman, Stongithoath, etc.)
What contrast is made between the fates meted out to Mary Pinch by Judge Nupkins and the citizens' treatment of Citizen Nupkins? (he is forced to share in labor and "to see everybody happy")
What are some major correlations between this drama and Morris's utopia News from Nowhere? Between Tables Turned and Morris's essays on art and socialism?
What are some advantages of making this representation of "the Great Change" a comic skit rather than a serious drama? (avoids issue of how the change has occurred; enables modeling of a better world)
How is change modeled? (radical contrast between first and second parts; carnivalesque)
What is the significance of the movement from the city to the countryside in the second section?
Can you think of dramatic parallels for the countryside scenes? (the Forest of Arden in As You Like It; Augusta Webster's slightly later Disguises)
What is the significance of the French revolutionary allusions, especially at the time? Of the final singing of a poem set to the tune of the Caragmole?
What are differences between the old and new societies? (all are helpful when they see Citizen Nupkins) What is revealed by the judge's behavior when he encounters happy workers? What does he say of his old occupation? (magistrates are harsh)
What is the symbolism of concluding the play with a final song of happy workers?
The original cast consisted of Morris as the Archbishop of Canterbury, May Morris as Mary Pinch, Halliday Sparling as Jack Freeman, H. Bartlett as Mr. La-di-da and Professor Tyndale, A. Brooks as Lord Tennyson, and W. Blundell as Mr. Justice Nupkins. How would these role reversals have added to the performance?