Act One Scene Seventeen

Synopsis of Scene 17

Dysart apologises for asking so many questions and Alan begins to ask questions in return. He asks Dysart about his marriage, to a dentist named Margaret, and asks if he has affairs and if he sleeps with his wife. Dysart will not answer and gets angry when Alan takes his cigarettes. Dysart tells him to leave and then reflects on how close to the mark Alan’s questions were. Hesther then enters.

Commentary on Scene 17

advanced neurotics: This is Dysart’s diagnosis of Alan’s condition, and he is clearly aware that Alan is sensitive to people’s vulnerabilities and will use this to manipulate them.


  • What kind of questions is Alan asking Dysart?
    • How do you think he knows these questions will hurt him?
  • How do you think Dysart feels at the end of this scene?
  • What do you think is the state of Dysart’s marriage?
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