“The Winslow Case” is the best of the three, better than “The Browning Version” or “The Deep Blue Sea”, not only due to its optimistic ending, but also owing to the fact that it has more twists in the plot, more hope in its characters no matter how vague, and more cheerful furniture in the background. Wait, “The Browning Version” has more cheerful color too, but a school so strict in its rules, so determined in underfeeding its pupils, so archaic in its management under the disguise of respecting the tradition cannot offer a sense of cheerfulness no matter how beautiful the lawns, the cottages, and other elements of the background look.
I wonder if it is by accident or by design, that in each of the three plays the main female character is in an emotional impasse. It’s probably a universal theme for Terence Rattigan’s work, but I wouldn’t know since I haven’t watched any other plays by him. Catherine Winslow is in an impossible position of getting old every day without having the prospects of getting satisfactorily married. John is tolerable, but scared off by the wild publicity of the lawsuit; Desmond is nothing but a meal ticket; Sir Robert Morton is too good to be true that probably only Jane Austen can pull off a scheme like that while still being adored as a good writer. One can’t help wondering why in such a big metropolis of London, Catherine cannot find somebody suitable to her, somebody not as rigid as John, not as dull as Desmond, not as unreachable as Robert.
Millie in “The Browning Version” is married, but she is as much in an impasse as Catherine. Andrew is too cold, Frank is unloving. She wanted to explore other opportunities, but only end up incurring gossips around the school and in the small town they live in. Andrew only wants to be civil to her, but she can’t help being bitter; Frank only wants a fling, but she can’t help complaining of his indifference. The best way is giving up both and find somebody else, but can this somebody else be found? Most likely not.
Hester is in a more devastating impasse than the previous two women characters since she is rejected by the society and is in a more vulnerable situation than the other two. The judge is insensitive, stubborn, and ignorant; Mr. Page is obviously unreliable and selfish; Mr. Miller is probably a chance, but not a promising chance.
I wonder if the three women have children, they would have thought differently, like what the judge points out at certain point. He is usually ignorant of anything related with human hearts–I almost suspect that he despises human hearts as much as his mother does– but he is right to when he points out the children factor. Children are a solace to women’s emotional disappointment. I agree, but I thought if the three women belong to women who have to work for a living, their idea of self worth and their outlook of life will be very different. Having work has as much a big effect on women as having children. The problem with work is that a lot of work are repetitive and boring, a lot of jobs are dead end–especially women’s job. Many work that women perform can only help feed them and give them minimum financial security, nothing more.