Act One Scene Two

Synopsis of Scene 2

The lights become stronger and we see Dysart sitting alone, as a nurse enters the stage and announces the arrival of Mrs Salomon. Dysart says that sometimes he blames Hesther Salomon, a magistrate, for the events which followed, since she introduced him to his new patient.

Hesther enters and she and Dysart chat, until he notices that she is upset. She explains that she has been in court, and has managed to prevent a seventeen-year-old boy from being sent to prison for a long time only by saying that Dysart will treat him. Hesther says that Dysart alone can treat him, because he will not be shocked and will be able to handle the case appropriately.

She explains that he blinded six horses with a metal stake, and that in court he would only sing, rather than speak. Dysart’s professional interest asserts itself, especially after Hesther suggests that there is something unusual about the boy, Alan.

Hesther leaves and the nurse brings in Alan, who is unresponsive when Dysart greets him.

Commentary on Scene 2

Hesther Salomon: Shaffer give this eminent female professional typically Jewish names.

Madam Chairman: Dysart addresses Hesther as Madam Chairman as a reference to her role as a magistrate. A magistrate, or Justice of the Peace, is someone who volunteers to hear criminal cases in a court of law, who can give out sentences and decide who is guilty.

Spanish fly: an aphrodisiac made from a green beetle.

the adjustment business: psychiatry – Dysart is referring ironically to the work he does.

Investigating scene 2...

  • How do Hesther and Dysart interact?
    • What do you think their relationship is?
    • Is there a difference between their friendly chat and their professional discussions?
  • Do you find the facts of the Strang case shocking?
  • Why do you think Dysart agrees to take the case?
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