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In the play “The Hour of Truth”, Percival Wilde has indirectly personified Money as most powerful through the story of a small family where the protagonist, Robert Baldwin, is forced to sacrifice his nobility and to accept a crime just for the sake of a hundred thousand dollars.
Percival Wilde doesn’t intends to depict any of the family as greedy but he rather wants to stress that money can alter the mind of the most honest ones and also explores greed from different sides .
Wait for Robert Baldwin
The play begins in the absence of the protagonist, Robert Baldwin, where his wife and daughter are tensed and waiting for Baldwin. They are looking at the dark sky and are not sure about the rain. They don’t know whether Baldwin will take his umbrella or not. While they are waiting for Robert’s arrival, they talk about Gresham, in whose bank Robert works.
The audience is informed after their conversation that Gresham has been imprisoned because of the closure of bank due to financial crisis. His trial is on the next day and it is Baldwin, who is supposed to give evidence against him.
But Gresham calls Robert that day, due to which the entire family of Robert is curious to know what actually happened and when Evie suspects Robert’s involvement in the wrecking of the bank, Maratha interrupts to make Evie aware of the fact that Robert is an extremely loyal man and he can never think to commit crime.
John immediately informs that he has seen Donovan, the assistant cashier the last day at the Athletic Club. Donovan has worked there for about eight years. John suspects his father that he must have known about it. John feels that because of John Gresham, his name is ruined. He angrily says that Gresham has been acquiring a lot of wealth in the twenty years while his honest father is getting just sixty dollars a week.
Finally Robert enters into the house and everyone is curious to know what has actually happened in the bank. On being questioned, Robert tells them that Gresham has tried to offer him a hundred thousand dollars which he refused to accept and he is not ready to tell any sort of lie which can later question his authenticity and morality.
This was the point when the mentality of Robert’s family begins to alter on hearing the amount of money. Instead of proudly appreciating him, the family begin to convince him to accept the bribe, offered by Gresham.
The family begin to manipulate him to say a lie and to help John Gresham. Maratha says that by disgracing Gresham, he will be disgracing his son whose name has been kept after Gresham’s name (John Gresham). It was John Gresham who sponsored John’s baptising.
Suddenly, Evie interrupts and puts her point of view that Robert Baldwin will be hated for sending Gresham into the jail if Gresham tells the depositors that he will pay everything back the next day. John supports her by saying that Robert can become his partner if Gresham is not sent to jail.
Robert Gets Angry
All these mean and selfish comments make Robert angry. But Maratha continues saying that he is the sole breadwinner of the family and his income his not sufficient for the Survival of the family. The family can be saved from the shortage of Bank only if Robert agrees to accept the bribe.
It was totally unbelievable for Robert to believe that the family whom he used to think as “Humble, Loyal and Selfless” are so mean and greedy. He calls them “Shams, Liars, Hypocrites and Thieves”. The family was so greedy that despite the insult, they manipulate Robert to accept the bribe.
By this time, Mr. Marshall, the President of the Third National Bank, enters and gives them a happy news that Gresham has confessed his guilt and a good job is waiting for Robert at Third National Bank. He is extremely drawn to Robert’s honesty and says to his family that “I can only say to you what every man will be saying tomorrow: “how highly I honour and respect your husband””.
Here the play ends.