Characters

  1. Amelia Slater: An energetic and sharp woman who married Henry Slater and has a ten-year-old daughter, Victoria.
  2. Henry Slater: He is a man who has no will of his own and no say in the house.
  3. Elizabeth Jordon: Mrs. Jordon is a stout and complacent woman.
  4. Ben Jordan: He is a practical man and a very big hypocrite in the play.
  5. Abel Merryweather: He is an old widower.

Introduction

The writer of this play, William Stanley Houghton was a famous English dramatist. He was a prominent member of a group of playwrights known as the Manchester School of Dramatics. His plays are set locally in Northern England, but represent universal aspects of human nature. He had a remarkable gift for dialogue that is evident in ‘The Dear Departed’. In the play, Stanley Houghton satirizes the degradation of moral values in the British middle class. In trying to grab the things belonging to their father, the children completely disregard modesty, decency, and obligation towards their family.

Summary

Mr. Abel Merryweather is dead

The play begins with Mr. Abel Merryweather declared dead and accordingly, her sister and her husband, the Jordans are informed about the sudden demise of their father. Mrs. Slater and her husband are busy making arrangements for the mourning. They are expecting the Jordans to join them. They start using the various belongings of their father. Victoria, daughter of Mrs. Slater does not like all this but reluctantly she is helping her parents in these matters.

The family members discuss the distribution of the belongings

Victoria is asked to keep a watch on the main door to inform her mother about the arrival of the Jordans. Mrs. Slater is not willing to share her father’s belongings with Mrs. Jordan. When the articles are being shifted, the Jordans arrive. The family members start a detailed conversation on the deeds of their deceased father, planning the details of the obituary announcement in the papers and the insurance premium payment. They start a discussion over the distribution of their father’s belongings among them.

Mr. Abel Merryweather was alive

Surprisingly, at this point, the play witnesses a turn of events. Victoria who has been sent to the grandfather’s room returns very scaredly. She tells everyone that her grandfather is alive. To everybody’s surprise, grandfather is seen coming downstairs.

Conclusion

The lesson ‘Dear Departed’ focuses on the family values that are dwindling fast in society. Materialism has affected modern man’s life so much that even the respectful relationship between father and daughter has become tainted with it. The lesson highlights this aspect of the relationship with unmatched craftsmanship by weaving a wonderful and absorbing sequence of events.