The Voysey Inheritance

While reading Hard Cash, I was reminded of the Granville-Barker play, The Voysey Inheritance. Although written over 40 years after Hard Cash was published, the play deals with the same issues of financial ruin, the family, and encroaching insanity. In many ways I think the play is the realist version of Reade’s sensationalism. There are no pirates, no insane asylums, and no melodramatic romances, but the conflicts at the heart of the novel are present in the play: how important is money? What happens when speculation fails? How far will a man go to keep up appearances? And what effect do his actions have on a family?

This play is also an interesting one to consider in light of the realist project. So far we have only discussed realism as it appeared in novels, but the same impulse carried through to the stage (on stage the attempt to capture reality was carried to the extreme, with one director actually putting live rabbits on stage during A Midsummer Night’s Dream in order to depict a realistic forest).