CBSE Class X English Support Material – Drama – The Dear Departed


In this ironical play, the author satirizes the degradation of moral values in the British middle class. It throws light on the increasing trend in the society of leaving elderly generation abandoned and neglected. The story also supports the idea that the elderly generation has the right to live merrily according to their own decisions.

In this play, the daughters Mrs. Amelia Slater and Mrs. Elizabeth Jordan want to get rid of their father, Mr. Abbel Merryweather, but both wish to get their father’s belongings. When their father comes to know the fact, he reveals his new will and master plan. According to new will, all of his belongings will be given to the daughter with whom he would be residing at the time of his death.

Now both the daughters wish that he should live with them. Father realises that both of them want his belongings and not him. Thus, he decides to marry Mrs. John Shorrocks who loves and cares for him. So, the dear are united instead of departing.

Points to remember:
1. Mrs. Slater discovers that grandfather is dead.
2. Mrs. Slaters instructs Victoria to put her white frock with a black sash on. Henry wears the new slippers of grandfather’s
3. The Slaters fetch the bureau and the clock from upstairs.
4. The Jordans arrive and learn the details of grandfather’s demise from the Slaters.
5. The family sits down to have tea.
6. They discuss the obituary announcement in the papers and the insurance premium payment.
7. Victoria is asked to fetch the bunch of keys to bureau to look for the insurance receipt.
8. Grandfather comes down and is surprised to find the Jordans.
9. Grandfather comes to know how his daughters were in a hurry to divide his things between them.
10. Grandfather announces his intention to change his will and to marry Mrs. JohnShorrocks.


Q-1 Answer the following questions in about 30-40 words.

a) How would you describe Mrs. Amelia Slater?
Ans: Mrs. Amelia Slater is a vigorous, plump, red faced, vulgar woman who can go to any extent in her own way. She is not ready to share her father’s bureau and the clock with her sister and so takes them in her possession before she arrives. She dominates her family members. Throughout the play, she is impolite and insensitive.

b) What did Victoria consider as ‘pinching’? What does this show about her personality?
Ans: The Slaters are moving away grandpa’s bureau stealthily before the arrival of the Jordans. They want to take it into their possession without revealing the truth to the Jordans. So Victoria considers it as ‘pinching’. It shows that she is a precocious girl and has the ability to distinguish between the good and the bad.

c) “That is professional etiquette”. Who says these words and what kind of professional etiquette is being referred to here?
Ans: Mrs. Slater says these words to Elizabeth. She was referring to the grandfather’s doctor, who was out when the grandfather was discovered ‘dead’. She further informs her that she did not go to any other doctor, because according to the professional etiquette, Dr. Pringle should attend to grandpa when he’s dead, as he was the one who attended him when he was alive.


B) “Are we pinching it before Aunt Elizabeth comes?”
What does ‘it’ refer to here?
1.How does Vicky conclude that her parents ‘are pinching it’?
2.Mention the two reasons that Mrs. Slater gives for her action.

III Short answer type questions:

1.How does Mrs. Slater plan to outshine the Jordans? What does it reveal about her character?
2.Why does Mrs. Slater decide to shift the bureau from grandfather’s room before the arrival of the Jordans? How does Henry react to the suggestion?
3)Ben appreciates grandfather saying ‘it’s a good thing he did.’ Later he calls him a ‘drunken old beggar’. Why does he change his opinion about grandfather?
4) What change does grandfather make in his new will? What effect does it haveon his daughters?
5) What are the three things that grandfather plans to do on the next Monday?
6) What does the grandfather thank Mrs. Slater for? Why?
7) What according to Mrs. Jordan is ‘a fatal mistake’? What argument does sheoffer to support her view? How do others react to it?
8) Why does Mrs. Slater rebuke her daughter, Victoria?
9) Which qualities of her sister Elizabeth Jordan are hinted at by Mrs. Slater? Are these unique to her?
10) How does the bureau episode add to the merits of the play as a comedy?
11) Why do the Slaters&Jordans fail to agree on the form and exact words of the Obituary Notice for the newspapers?
12) What does the shifting of the bureau downstairs reveal about the difference between the attitude of the elders and that of Vicky?
13) What, do you think, is the initial error committed by the Slaters? How does itrecoil on them?
14) How do the Slaters and Jordans react to the grandfather’s decision to get married? What trait of their character is revealed?
15) How does Mrs. Slater ready herself and Victoria for the arrival of her sister, Elizabeth and Ben, her husband?
16) What does Mrs. Slater ‘steal’ of her father’s things before Mrs. and Mr. Jordanarrive? How does Henry react to it?
17) What do the Slaters and Jordans discuss immediately after arrival for themourning at the Slaters? What does it show of their character?
18) What of their father do Mrs. Slater and Mrs. Jordan talk about after takingtea?
19) How do all react when they see father alive and not dead as they had thought?What does father say about himself?
20) How do both the sisters quarrel after father asks Mrs. Slater why had his bureau been shifted?
21) What does father promise to do after Mrs. Slater asks him not to be hard on her?
22) How do Mrs. Slater and Mrs. Jordan behave about keeping father with them?
23) How does Abel frustrate the designs of both of the sisters?
24) What according to Mrs. Jordan is a fatal mistake? What argument does she offer to support her view? How do others react to it?
25) How does the bureau episode add to the merits of the play as a comedy?
26) How do the Slaters and Jordans react to the grandfather’s decision to get married? What trait of their character is revealed?

IV) Long Answer type questions:

a) Write the character sketch of Mrs. Slater highlighting the following points: Her greed, her overpowering nature, straight talk, her impoliteness and lack of the sense of feelings.
b) In the play the two daughters do not seem to be concerned at their father’s death.Do you think it is proper? Why?
c) How are the two sisters exposed in the play, The Dear Departed?
d) Justify the title of the play, The Dear Departed.
e) Discuss the comic elements in the play.
f) What are ironical elements that make the play a comedy?
g) Compare and contrast Henry’s character with that of this wife. Support your answerwith evidence form the play.
h) What is your impression about Abel as portrayed in the play?
i)How is the play a kind of bitter commentary on the hollowness of familial love andrelations?
j) Compare and contrast the character of Mrs. Slater and Mrs. Jordan.
k) How does the spat between his daughters lead to grandfather discovering the truth?
l)“Grandfather is not entirely right in moving away from his daughters.” Discuss. Givereason in support of your answer.

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