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Salvation Nell


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Edward Sheldon (1886—1946)

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A: Edward Sheldon Pf: 1908, Providence, Rhode Island Pb: 1967 G: Drama in 3 acts S: A bar, a tenement apartment, a street corner, New York, early 20th c. C: 27m, 20f, extrasNell Sanders works long hours as a cleaner in a bar in order to support her lover Jim Platt, a charming but indolent individual, by whom she becomes pregnant. He repays her by constant abuse. Because of his drunkenness, he loses his job and gets into a fight with another drinker who has been pestering Nell, beats and kicks him, finally killing him. Jim is arrested and Nell is sacked from her job. Nell rejects the temptation to become a prostitute and joins the Salvation Army. Eight years later, she is a leading light in the Army and has become close to one of the majors who loves her. Her happiness is shattered by the return of Jim from prison, who meets his child and demands that Nell return to him. When she learns that Jim and his gang are about to commit a robbery, she tries to dissuade him, and begins to call the police but cannot go through with it. Jim beats her, and she collapses. He runs away, fearful of having to return to prison. The Major declares his love for Nell, but she admits to still loving Jim. Jim returns, but Nell says that they can be together only when he admits God to his life. On the point of leaving once more, he overhears Nell addressing the Salvation Army congregation. Moved by her words, he asks for time to reform, and they look forward to a changed existence together.

A: Edward Sheldon Pf: 1908, Providence, Rhode Island Pb: 1967 G: Drama in 3 acts S: A bar, a tenement apartment, a street corner, New York, early 20th c. C: 27m, 20f, extras

Salvation Nell by the 22-year-old Sheldon was his first and arguably greatest success, hailed at the time, despite its melodramatic plot, as a play exploring social problems in the manner of Gorky's Lower Depths. Interestingly, the Salvation Army becomes an image of living faith in major international plays of the period (e.g. Shaw's Major Barbara, Kaiser's From Morning to Midnight, Brecht's St Joan of the Stockyards).

Subjects: Theatre — Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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