Episode one - TO BUSINESS
The play opens in a typical working office environment. Immediately we learn that none of the characters are referred to by their name, each character is known as their title, i.e. Young Woman, Telephone Girl, Filing Clerk etc, and this continues right though the play. We learn that central character Young Woman feels estranged from the robotic life that surrounds her, and feels trapped by the mechanical lifestyle that everybody appears to follow. She is offered a marriage proposal by her boss, Mr Jones (who is later referred to as husband).
Adding clerk, Filing clerk, Stenographer, Telephone girl, Jones, Young woman
Episode two - AT HOME
Scene focuses on the relationship between Young Woman and her Mother. Young Girl is like a puppet to her Mother, a woman who doesn’t listen and has become a part of automated life. She aims to avoid any questions about life and love Young Woman asks her, and instead says only “Love! – what does that amount to! Will it clothe you? Will it feed you? Will it pay the bills?” When Young Woman questions her mother, she replies, “I suppose I did – I don’t know – I’ve forgotten – what difference does it make – now?” Young Woman fears her life for becoming like her mother is the way of most women.
Young woman, Mother, Garbage man, Woman, boy, young man, girl, man, wife, husband
Episode three - HONEYMOON
The wedding evening of Young Woman and Mr Jones, and Young Woman is terrified at the prospect of spending the night with her husband, a man she is not in love with. The stage notes describe her as having ‘eyes that are wide with a curios, helpless, animal terror’, and she is reduced to tears. We assume they consummate the marriage.
Jones, Bellboy, Young woman
Episode four - MATERNAL
Young Woman is in hospital, having given birth to a baby girl. We get an impression she has been in the hospital for a long time, and she is sorrowful that her child is female, as Young Woman fears her daughter will also be trapped in the system of society, a society with no freedom. The Doctor describes her as being silent and weak—perhaps a suggestion of post-natal depression—yet the end of the episode focuses on her internal psychology and the scene ends with her refusing to ‘submit’ to any such life.
Nurse, Young woman, Jones, Doctor
Episode five - PROHIBITED
‘Prohibited’ as a title for Episode five is perhaps a play on words for the setting of this scene—a speakeasy—and Young Woman feeling like she is banned from freedom. It is in this scene that Young Woman meets the man she will have an affair with. We see her laugh for the first time and be honest with him, as is he; telling Young Woman that he killed two men with a bottle full of stones, to escape, to ‘get free’.
First man, Second man, Man at bar, Boy at bar, Woman at bar, Telephone girl, Young woman, Man behind bar, Girl, Man
Episode six - INTIMATE
Young Woman is now referred to as Woman. We assume Woman and her lover, known simply as ‘Man’ have spent the night together. She recalls a memory from when she was a little girl with her grandmother, something we never saw her do with Mr Jones. She declares ‘we belong together’ and states ‘I never knew anything like this way! I never knew that I could feel like this! So, - so purified!’ She takes a lily from his apartment, and thanks him for making her feel freedom.
Man, Young woman
Episode seven - DOMESTIC
Woman is once again referred to as Young Woman. The scene follows another ordinary night between Mr Jones and Young Woman. He reads a line from the paper with great importance, ‘All men are born free and entitled to the pursuit of happiness’. We know (knowing the S+H Context of the play) that this is not true of all men. This statement also fails to include women, suggestive of their place in society at this time. Voices of her lover fill Young Woman’s head; a repetition of ‘stones, head stones’ is heard. She cries out in terror and we assume she has killed her husband, in the same manner her lover killed two men—with a stone filled glass bottle.
Jones, Young Woman
Episode eight - THE LAW
The name suggests Young Woman is in trouble with it. The scene is set inside the courtroom of her trial. Young Woman denies murdering her husband Mr Jones. The Lawyer for the prosecution asks Young Woman if she recognises a lily from her apartment. She denies. But the Lawyer for the prosecution obtains a letter written by her lover, stating that he [her lover] gave her the blue bowl filled with little pebbles and the lily, being used as evidence. Young Woman confesses to the murder of her husband, and when asked why she did it, she replies ‘To be free.’ The judge follows, ‘If you just wanted to be free – why didn’t you divorce him?’ to which she states ‘Oh I couldn’t do that!! I couldn’t hurt him like that!’
Bailiff, Clerk, Court reporter, Judge, defense lawyer, First reporter, Second reporter, Young woman, Prosecution lawyer, Third reporter
Episode nine - A MACHINE
The final episode follows Young Woman’s journey from prison to her death, which is by the electric chair. She weeps as they shave a section of her hair, and cries out ‘Submit! Submit! Is nothing mine? The hair on my head! The very hair on my head’. Young Woman asks the Priest why the act of a sin she committed was the only happiness she ever truly had? At the last moment, she pleads to speak to her daughter, to tell her to live, but it is too late, and as she calls out, her voice is cut off and she dies.
Priest, Singer, Jailer, Young woman, Matron, Barber 1, Barber 2, First Guard, Second Guard