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Rutherford and Son


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A: Githa Sowerby Pf: 1912, London Pb: 1912 G: Drama in 3 acts S: John Rutherford's home, northern England, early 20th c. C: 4m, 4fThe autocratic John Rutherford, boss of a metalworks on bleak moorland in northern England, lives with his curmudgeonly sister Ann, his desiccated daughter Janet, and his ineffectual son Richard, who is in the Church. His older son John has reluctantly returned home with his wife Mary and their baby son, and the young family endure a miserable winter in the cheerless household. Young John Rutherford has, with the help of a workman Martin, invented a new manufacturing process which would revive the fortunes of Rutherford's factory. When he offers to sell the patent to his father, Rutherford is outraged that his son should try to profit from something he should use to benefit the family business and persuades Martin to hand over the secret formula. Learning that Janet has been seeing Martin, Rutherford is so furious that his daughter is consorting with a worker that he throws her out of the house. Martin is sacked, and still fearing Rutherford, can no longer love Janet. She leaves in distress. John, discovering that Rutherford has his formula, steals money from him, and sets out to make a new life, promising to send for Mary. Mary offers Rutherford a deal: if she is allowed to bring up her son in his house, she will let Rutherford take him over as the next boss of the factory and so preserve the family business. Rutherford, abandoned by his own children, feels obliged to agree.

A: Githa Sowerby Pf: 1912, London Pb: 1912 G: Drama in 3 acts S: John Rutherford's home, northern England, early 20th c. C: 4m, 4f

In the 20th century at last, women, who had scored notable successes in the novel, now began to write in large numbers for the stage, and Githa Sowerby was one of the pioneers. While the scenes between father (based on Sowerby's own patriarchal parent) and son are powerful, her writing is most telling in the terrible disappointment endured by Janet when Martin can no longer love her.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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