While Caste contains many of the stock figures of 18th-century plays, the innocent low-born heroine, the drunken father, the comically eccentric dowager, Robertson's naturalism and seriousness of purpose lend the play considerable weight. By confining the action to two familiar interior locations, there is, compared with a piece like The Colleen Bawn, an authentic feel to the events of the play, which helped to consolidate the Victorian use of realistic box sets. In challenging fixed notions of class, Robertson is clearly progressive. However, one must accept Hawtree's point that such marriages may work in a play but are less successful in reality. How, for example, will Esther relate to Polly and Sam when she returns to her life of luxury? But then comedy always ends with a happy resolution, without feeling obliged to explore the consequences.
Subjects: Theatre — Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).
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T. W. Robertson (1829—1871) playwright