MP Board Class 12th Special English Important Questions Chapter 21 The Silver Box
I. Answer the following questions in about 50 – 60 words each:
Act – I
Describe the meeting between the Unknown lady and Mr. Barthwick in your own words. What is the outcome of this meeting? (M.P. 2017 Imp.)
One morning an unknown lady tries to seek permission to meet Mr. Barthwick. She is escorted by the servant Marlow to Mr. Barthwick whom she refuses to meet. Instead she asks for Jack Barthwick i. e. Mr. Barthwick’s son. Mr. Barthwick calls for Jack in the hall to meet the unknown lady as she refuses to tell the reason to Mr. Barthwick about her meeting to Jack.
The unknown lady was a young girl with pale complexion and dark eyes. She had a pretty figure. She expresses her desire to meet Jack. Mr. Barthwick asked her the reason, for her desire to meet his son. She lodged a complain to Mr. Barthwick, that last night Jack had a quarrel with her and had taken away her crimson silk purse (reticule). This disclosure shocks Mr. Barthwick and he foresees his spending for Jack in vain (waste).
The unknown lady demands for her purse along with the money amounting to be nearly seven pounds and twelve pence. She wants her money back as she has to pay the rent to her landlady. She also threatens to complain of theft against Jack, if she does not gets the money back.
The outcome of the meeting brings out the darker aspects of the character of Jack Barthwick. Mr. Barthwick realizes the mistake of his son and tries to settle the matter by giving the girl eight pounds to cover the value of the purse and Cab fare. He said to his son that people like him are nuisance to the society and are dangerous. He lastly commented that his conduct is absolutely unjustifiable. It shows that he lost his hope for his son.
Write a note on the dramatic significance of the unknown lady-episode. (M.P. 2009, 11, 13, 15, 16, 17)
The visit of the unknown lady serves a useful dramatic purpose. It throws light on lack’s character. The lady reveals that Jack is a drunkard and a debauch. He associates with prostitutes. He is also a thief. In other words he is as guilty as Jones. Thus the lady’s visit is an important link in plot construction.
Do you feel that Mrs. Jones attempts to defend her husband during the interview with Mr. Barthwick? (Imp.)
Mr. Barthwick interrogates Mrs. Jones about the theft of the silver box. This reveals several vital facts about her miserable life. She has got three school going children and she can not support them. Her husband is still jobless as well as troublesome. He extracts money from her for drinking. He is a groom by profession. She had an affair with him before their marriage eight years ago. Her eldest son was born before marriage. Yes, She attempts to defend her husband.
What would the members of the Labour Party do, according to Mr. Barthwick, once they came to power? (M.P. 2014)
A labour party candidate has won by election to the parliament. This gives a rude shock to Mrs. Barthwick. She blames the liberals for encouraging the common people. The political discussion reveals the attitude of Mr. and Mrs. Barthwick who represent the upper class. According to Mr. Barthwick, the members of the labour party would deprive the upper classes of their rights and property once they came to power.
Write about the appearance of the Unknown Lady in your own words. (M.P. 2014)
The visit of the Unknown Lady serves a useful purpose in the drama. It throws light on Jack’s character, as she wants to meet. Jack Mr. Barthwick for stealing her purse. One morning the Unknown Lady enters the house. She was a young girl, with pale complexion, dark eyes and pretty figure. She wears a hat with flowers intact on it.
What was the reaction of Mr. Barthwick after meeting with unknown lady? (M.P. 2015, 18)
Mr. Barthwick rebukes and scolds his son after he meets the unknown lady and pays her the money. She had in her reticule along with cab fare. He says that he had no principles and he was a nuisance to the society. His conduct was unjustifiable and he had committed a crime. He warns Jack (his son) that he would defend him next time, and that he is not fit to be helped.
Describe in your own words the room in which Jones lived.
Jones in the play ‘The Silver Box’ lived in a bare room, with tattered oil cloth and damp distempered walls. It had an air of tidy wretchedness.
What comment did Mr. Barthwick make regarding the case of the two girls? (M.P. 2015, 18)
On hearing the case of the two little girls, Barthwick said that it is a painful case with a very distressing state of things. He comments that the case like this should be taken up in the house i.e. the parliament. He says that it is an important question regarding the distressful condition of the people.
Where were the two little girls found by the police? (M.P. 2015)
The two little girls were found, wandering in the street by the police, as their aunt had not allowed them to be in her own house. The mother of girls had left them and gone and the father was unemployed thus could not take care of them.
What according to Mr. Barthwick is education doing for the lower class? (M.P. 2015)
According to Mr. Barthwick education for the lower class is ruining the lower class, as they would be at par with the higher class.
What did Roper ask Jack to do when he testifies in the court of law? (M.P. 2016)
Roper advises Jack not to say anything at all in the court. He should simply say that he slept on the sofa.
Act – II
What is the dramatic significance of the conversation between Mrs. Jones and her husband? (M.P. 2009, 12)
Mrs. Jones is a noble character, in the play, ‘The Silver Box’. She is a victim of malicious fate, for stealing a silver box. As she returns back home from her job, she finds Mr. Jones sleeping. He asks her about her early return from job. He shows his anger and frustration on her and misbehaves with his wife.
He tells his wife about the purse with seven pounds, which he picked out of spite. His wife informs Mr. Jones about the rent to be paid. Mr. Jones provides the rent with the sovereign he picked, and surprises his wife. While discussing about the sovereign and purse, she tries to fold Mr. Jones coat and drops the silver box from the coat’s pocket.
Mr. Jones tries to grab the silver box, from her and tells her that he picked it but of spite and will throw in the river. In the meantime a significant change takes place in the drama and a detective by the name-Snow enters and grabs ‘The Silver Box’.
What does Jones want to do with the money he has got? What does he want to do in his future life? (Imp.)
Or, What was Jones planning with stolen money? (M,P. 2015, 16)
Jones has stolen a silk purse. It has seven pounds in it. He calls it a loss property with no name on it. As Mrs. Jones is an honest lady. She doesn’t look happy at it. But Jones has no sense of guilt. He says that he will go to Canada to change his luck. He would live a happy liffewith another lady. He would live with freedom.
Give an account of the way ‘The Silver Box’ was recovered from the residence of Jones. (M.P. 2009, 11, 13, Imp., 18)
When Mrs. Jones detects the stolen purse she thinks to return it to her employer. So when jones is out she shakes out his coat. The silver box falls down from the coat packet. She looks hard at it. But Jones snatches it from her hands with a promise that he would throw it away into the river along with the purse.
On the other hand when Barthwick finds the box missing he asks Snow, a detective to search it. Snow out of doubt comes to Jones house just at the time when Jones trying to take the box from his wife who takes it to go to return it to Barthwick. Snow detects the letters J.B. Carved on it and is sure it was the stolen one from Barth wickis house.
What transpires between Roper and Mr. Barthwick? (M.P. 2010,15)
Roper the advocate, is shown in. Barthwick tells him about The Silver Box which was stolen not by the charwoman but her loafer husband. Jones also says that Jack let him walk into the house. Jones then took away both the things The Silver Box and the purse. The news might appear in the papers the next day. Jones is likely to make full use of the purse against his family. Jack confesses so many things one by one. His mother tells him to forget the truth that he led jones into the house, offered him whisky and left the key in the lock of the door.
Roper advises Jack not to say anything at all in the court. He should simply say that he slept on the sofa. In fact he needn’t attend the court at all. Jacks feels great relief. Barthwick wants that Roper should see to it that the purse theft case is not referred to at all. Roper promises to manage the whole case. He takes leave.
How was Snow able to recognize that the silver box belonged to the Barthwick family? (M.P. 2014)
Barthwick’s had appointed Snow, a detective to Trace the whereabouts of silver box that was stolen from their residence. As per suspect, snow visits Mr. and Mrs. Jones residence and rescues the silver box from Jone’s residence. He recognizes the box by the letters J.B., which was inscribed on the box, which symbolises their (Barthwick’s) initials.
Who is Snow? What makes Snow come to the residence of Mrs. Jones? (M.P. 2014, 16, 18)
In the drama ‘The Silver Box’ Snow plays a vital role in recovery of the missing box. Snow is a detective, who is appointed by Mr. Barthwick to find the silver box. Snow came to the residence of Mrs. Jones with an intention to arrest her, suspecting her to be the victim of stealing the silver box.
Act – III
Write in your own words the proceeding of the case of the two little girls in the court. (M.P. 2011)
The Silver Box is based on the theme of social, economic and legal evils. It focuses on the suffering of poor families as a result of unemployment and poverty. The introduction of the two, little girls shows how children suffer the most when homes break. Livens can not find a job. So his wife leaves him and her daughters. He puts them in his sister’s house. But she too can not feed them. Finally they are sent to a home for destitute children. The episode is very relevant to the theme of the play.
How does the case against Jones proceed in the court of law? (M.P. 2009, 13, Imp.)
The second case listed for the day is that of James, Jones and Jane, Jones. Barthwick whispers to his solicitor Roper to avoid any reference to the purse. The two charges against the accused relate to the theft of The Silver Box and assault on the police. Jones denies that he stole the box. He admits that he attacked the police but he has to say many thirjos why he did so.
What were the two charges made by the police against Jones? (M.P. 2014, 18)
The Silver Box is based on the theme of social, economic and legal evils. Snow, the detective recovers the stolen The Silver Box from Mr. and Mrs. Jones residence and takes them to the court of law. He puts two charges against them-one of stealing of the silver box and second of assaulting on the police.
What reasons did Jones provide for taking the silver box? (M.P. 2014)
Jones is called into the witness box. He swears that he will speak the truth. Jones says that he had never before been brought to a police court.
Jones says that he took the silver box under the effect of liquor and in his fit of drunkness. He also reveals that Jack Barthwick offered him liquor and offered him to smoke and take whatever hp wishes from his room.
Why does Jones, towards the end of the play say, “Call this justice”? (M.P. 2015, 18)
Mr. Jones was caught and found guilty of stealing the silver box from Mr. Barthwick’s house whereas Jack, Barthwick’s son was left untouched in spite of his involvement in the same activity.
Jones says so because he was sentenced for one month with hard labour while Jack who had committed the same offence of drinking and stealing was set free, he being a wealthy person.
II. Answer the following questions in about 60 words:
Act – I
What transpires when Mr. Barthwick calls Mrs. Jones for a talk? (M.P. 2011, 13)
When Mr. Barthwick found the box missing from palace, he enquires from his servant Marlow asking about the responsibility of cleaning the room. Mr. Barthwick calls Mrs. Jones for a talk as he comes to know, that the responsibility of cleaning the room lies with Mrs. Jones.
Barthwick then interrogates about the theft of silver box. This reveals several vital facts about her miserable life. She had her school going children, whom she could not support. Her husband is still jobless as well as troubles her. He is a groom by profession which is not permanent for him.
He extracts money from her for drinking and harass her. This reveals that she leads a highly miserable life. Thus, Mr. Barthwick tries to investigate the whole affair of the loss of silver box she refuses to have any knowledge about the silver box.
III. Answer the following questions in about 150 – 200 words each:
Write a critical appreciation of the play ‘The Silver Box’. (M.P. 2010, 17 Imp.)
Or, Describe the play’s relevance in the present day circumstance.
The Silver Box, Galsworthy’s first dramatic work, is a three act play. The author calls it a ‘social comedy’ but it is comic only in the satirical portraits of characters in the society and the law courts. Here is a bogus liberal M.P., John Barthwick who loves fine phrases and speaks as if he were addressing his voters. But he turns cool the moment his own interests are threatened. Then there is his foolish and self-centred wife who would side with her good for nothing son at all cost.
She regards Jones as a dangerous fellow. Their son Jack is thoroughly spoiled. He is a debauch, a thief and a liar. For the likes of Barthwicks life is a comedy because they wield power, position and contacts. But they are the real criminals. For poor Mrs. Jones and her children, the play is a ‘social tragedy’. In spite of her complete innocence they become victims of a horrible miscarriage of justice.
She suffers bashing by her own husband. She is arrested for the crime committed by him. Her children go hungry. Her employer accuses of stealing The Silver Box. Towards the end, she is left alone, and without a job, only to starve. Strangely enough, the dramatist calls his play a comedy, perhaps because we are left at the end smiling ironically at the unfairness of the world.
The central theme of the play is the operation of law as it affects the rich and the poor. There are two sharply contrasted groups in the play. One consists of a bogus liberal M.P., his foolish wife and his spoilt son. He has got wealth and position and outward respectability. They guard their reputation jealousy even by using unfair means. They can easily buy detectives, constables and magistrates. The scales of justice are tilted in their favour.
The other group consists of Jones, his wife and children. This family is poor, miserable and defenceless. They are charged with theft and violence. Jones is found guilty of assaulting a public servant on duty. He can’t hire any advocate to defend him. He argues his own case. But his voice is muffled, and he is sent to prison with hard labour. Jack who is equally guilty of stealing a prostitute’s purse, gets a clean chit in the court.
Thus we find in the play police, lawyers, turning of the law, and conviction of the weak. The law in our so-called civilized society, has taken the place of ancient tyrants. It crushes down the innocent.
The Silver Box is a penetrating study of life in Edwardian England. It is as true and relevant today as it was centuries ago. The law remains the handmaid of the rich and the ruling class. The poor somehow manage to keep breathing.
Justify the title of the play The Silver Box. (M.P. 2010, 11, 13, 16, 17)
Galsworthy’s original title for The Silver Box was The cigarette Box. Both essentially mean the same thing – an expensive cigarette case. It is the central thing in the plot. The entire story revolves around it. Jones an out-of-work poor man is tempted one night to take it away from wealthy Jack’s house.
Mr. Barthwick first points his accusing finger at this charwoman Mrs. Jones. She discovers it by chance at her house. She insists on returning it to its owner. There is a scuffle. Jones wants to throw it into the river. At this crucial moment a detective Mr. Snow enters the room and recovers the stolen box.
He draws Mrs. Jones on charge of theft to the police station. Jones attacks the policeman on duty. He too is arrested. Both are produced in the court. The dishonest Magistrate, the constable and the advocate Roper shield Jack. Jones is convicted though not on charge of stealing the box but of assault-ing a public servant on duty.
Thus, we see the cigarette box dominates the events from cover to cover. All conflict and suffering arise from it. The word ‘silver’ gives to the title the colour of a class struggle between the rich and the poor. Silver is the symbol of riches. Hence the title The Silver Box is more appropriate and effective than the cigarette Box.
Write a character sketch of Mr. Barthwick. (M.P. 2014, 16)
Galsworthy’s characters are neither glorious heroes nor outright villains. They are true to life. Most of them are ordinary men and women we meet with around us everday. Jack belongs to the aristocratic class, although he himself is a spoilt and dissolute young man. His father John Barthwick is a Member of the British parliament. He is rich and influential. Jack has all the advantages of his father’s status and purse. He becomes easy-going and pleasure loving. He is pampered further by his mother. He is studying at Oxford where boys drink to freely and mix with street women. And he admits this fact with shameless pride.
Jack spends money recklessly. So he is always hard up and penniless. He issues a cheque which is dishonoured by the bank. He runs the risk of prosecution for cheating or deception. He has just one shilling in his pocket when he seeks Jone’s help. So he allows Jones to drink, smoke and even take away whatever he likes. He quarrels with his father about money. He demands more money to spend recklessly on his pleasure hunting. He snatches away the handbag of a lady in a drunken fit of anger. The lady complains to his father who agrees to pay her 8 pounds.
Jack has no moral scruples. He mixes with women of easy virtue. He quarrels with one and snatches away her velvet handbag containing all her money in a purse. In the court he tells lies on inducement from his defence council Roper. He refuses to recognise Jones and pretends forgetfulness.
Jack happens to be guilty of the same offence as Jones. Both have the same weak-nesses for wine and women. Both steal and are made to stand in the witness box. But Jack is shielded by his father and the advocate. He goes scot-free while Jones get one month’s rigorous imprisonment.
However Jack is not a downright wicked villain. He is not a deliberate thief. He is a product of an unjust system and economic order. He is pampered chiefly by his mother.
Write a character-sketch of Jones. (Imp.)
The Silver Box is a modem and magnificent play. It has a galaxy of characters, most of whom have their failings and vices. The only noble character who wins our sympathy and pity is Mrs. Jones. She is a good woman who wishes to bring up her children properly. She is honest, sincere and dutiful to the core. She claims no privileges and asks no favours. Yet she suffers the most. She suffers the drunken brute of a husband at home. She is falsely accused of stealing a silver box by her employer. When Jones is hauled upon charges of theft and violence, the poor Mrs. Jones is left jobless to Starve.
Mrs. Jones is slim with dark eyes and oval face. Her voice is soft, smooth and even. She is gentle and modest. She doesn’t have the aggressive nature of her husband. Her lamb-like docility annoys her husband. He calls her milky mild who hasn’t even the spirit of a louse. She accepts her lot without complaint or murmur, her self-effacement gives a peculiar grace to her personality.
Mrs. Jones is born under an unlucky star. She is a victim of malicious fate as well as society. She first suffers the tyranny of her husband who beats her cruelly in a state of drunkeness. He accuses of her being unfaithful and even threatens to cut her throat. But she bears it calmly as a good and faithful wife. She tries to spot his good points. She can not take a firm decision to leave him.
She tries to explain his violence and cruelty to his heavy drinking and unemployment. She says: “Of course, I know he has a very hard life. And he is fond of the children and it’s very hard for him to see them going without food. She affirms that Jones is kind and generous when he is sober. She tries her best to save her man from the grip of law.
Mrs. Jones is completely innocent of theft. Yet she loses her reputation as well as job. She and her children are left to starve. The court verdict hits her that hardest in three ways. Her husband is sent to jail. She loses her job in Barthwick’s house. She loses her reputation as it thrown out of her lodging.
The machinery of law crushes her. Her undeserved suffering is indeed tragic. She is simple honest and truthful. She condemns Jones’ action of stealing somebody else’s purse. She reveals frankly that she had an affair with Jones before she married him. That caused a scandal and cost Jones his job. On the whole, Mrs. Jones appeals powerfully to our sense of sympathy and pity.
“The play is an attack on the hypocrisy of the British higher class.” Discuss. (M.P. 2010, 12, 14, 18)
The Silver Box presents, in fact, the on-going class war in the whole world. The Society is broadly divided into the upper class and the lower class the rich and the poor, the rulers and the ruled. John Barthwick represents the upper middle class. He is a liberal mem¬ber of Parliament.
He has lofty principles about social reforms. He wants all parties to have their representatives in the Parliament. He professes sympathy for the poor. He seems to be deeply moved during the case hearing of Livens. He decides to raise the issue of the down¬trodden in the house.
But Barthwick’s sympathy for the poor is only skin-deep. He thinks that the poor are committing the folly of distrusting the rich, and they themselves are largely responsible for their misery. “If they would only trust us (The upper class) they get on so much better”. He doesn’t realise that the poor are victims of social apathy and ruthless laws.
The Barthwick is a bogus liberal. His hypocrisy and selfishness are clearly exposed. He is mortally afraid of a public scandal. He helps his Jack out of trouble twice in order to save his own good name from damage. He seeks the help of Snow and Roper to drop the charge of theft against Jones. “Better to have lost a dozen cigarette boxes, and said nothing about it.”
He decides to make enquiries about the stolen box because it is question of his principle. But he makes Jack tell a lie in the court. At the end, when Mrs. Jones turns to him with an appeal, he turns his back upon her and goes away like a coward. The author’s estimate of Barthwick is very fair.
“Drinking affects the high and the low alike”. Illustrate the proposition on the basis of your study of the play. (Imp.)
The Silver Box deals, is a family drama of two persons – John Barthwick and James Jones. The former is a wealthy M.R He has liberal views in theory, but he can go to any length to save his family’s reputation and his private property. He is not a socialist. He has a pampered son Jack studying at Oxford. Jack is given to drinking womanising and spending lavishly. He has no respect for anybody, not even for his father. He has no moral scruples. Mrs. Barthwick harps on the respectability of the family the innocence of her son and supposed evil designs of the lower classes.
Jones represents the have-nots the poor working class. His family consists of his wife and three children. He is out-of-work. He is willing to work but is unable to get work. Mrs. Jones works as a charwoman in the house of Barthwick where she is accused of stealing the silver box. There is a lot of similarity between Jack and Jones. Both are reckless in their conduct. Both drink too much and both run after other woman. Both are guilty of robbing or stealing. Jack snatches away the purse of a prostitute. Jones steals away that silk purse along with a silver box. both are characterless.
If Barthwick shows concern for his own reputation. Jones become violent to protect the honour and goodname of his respectable wife. He frees her from the false charge of theft. Barthwick is a bogus liberal, a hypocrite. He doesn’t hesitate to destroy a weak family. His son Jack tells lies and robs a woman of her purse.
Mrs. Jones on the other hand is very honest, sincere and submissive. Thus Jone’s family is in a way better than Barthwicks family. But at the same time both the families suffer in a similar manner due to the drunkard protagonists of them. Hence, it is apt to say the “Drinking affects the high and the low alike”. It prompts them to acquire similar vices, irrespective of their social and financial status.
What short coining of the British judicial system emerge out of the play? (M.P. 2016, 18)
‘The Silver Box’ as regarded by John Gals worthy a comedy, is actually a problem play. We can call it a social tragedy. There are two categories of people in the society. One is upper class. The other is of lower class.The victims are poor and unemployed Jones, his wife, MrsJones and their three children.
The victimiser in the case is not so much the wealthy liberal, Mr. Barthwick as law itself. John Galsworthy indicts the established institu¬tion of law courts which is held in highest esteem for its fairness. The real quality is that the scales of justice are tilted in favour of mean of position and wealth. The principle of equality before law in a paper tigger, a legal function.
Jack and Jones are equally wicked. Both are equally guilty of misconduct, moral degration and stealing. But law treats them differently. Jack is able to get the help of a lawyer and the policeman. His offence of stealing is ignored. While the poor Jones is silenced and sent to prison.
Write a summary of Act II of the Silver Box in your own words.
The Silver Box written by John Galsworthy is a short play. It contains three acts. It is a comedy on social structure. The laws prevailing in the society are not alike for rich and poor. The play has two kinds of characters of high standard and low standard.
In the summary of Act II, Mrs. Seddon, the landlady of Jones house, comes to collect the rent. Jones takes out the crimson purse. He says he got it lying on the road. It contained more than seven pounds. He plans to go to Canada to change his luck. The silver box is found in the coat pocket of Jones by Mrs. Jones. She blames him for spoiling her reputation.
Mr. Jones says he has not stolen it but picked it up under the influence of liquor. At the same time Snow, a detective enters and puts his hand on the box and declares to arrest Mrs. Jones. Jones confesses that he has stolen the box. He is thus arrested along with his wife and are produced before the law.