- Two Women—Mrs. Pearson and Mrs.Fitzgerald :
It is afternoon. Mrs. Pearson is sitting with Mrs. Fitzgerald in her living room. Mrs.Pearson’s a pleasant but worried looking woman in her forties. Mrs. Fitzgerald is older, heavier and anger personality. They have sharply con-ting voices. Mrs. Pearson speaks in a light Mrs. Fitzgerald with a deep voice. Mrs.herald has been telling Mrs. Pearson’s fortune. She learnt this art from the East where her husband had served in the army.
- “Bethe Mistress of your own house….”, tells Mrs. Fitzgerald to Mrs. Pearson Mrs. Fitzgerald asks Mrs. Pearson to put her foot down once and for all. She should be the mistressof her own house. She must be the bossof her family. She runs after them all the time. She takes their orders as if she were their servant in the house. In this way, she is ruining herself and the family.
Mrs. Pearson’s husband andher children should take notice of her. Mrs.Pearson is timid. She keeps making her mind to deal with them. She can’t muster enough courage.
- Exchange of Personalities :Mrs. Fitzgerald tells Mrs. Pearson that she will set her family right. Only they will haveto change their personalities. She asks Mrs. Pearson to give her hand and keep quiet for a minute. They stare at each other muttering “ArshtattadumArshtatta. “ Their person alities change bodies. So nowMrs. Pearson becomes bold and dominating. Mrs. Fitzgerald is nervous and timid. It is easier changing back. They can exchange their personalities at will.
- Mrs.Pearson (with Mrs. Fitzgerald’s personality) Tackles Doris First
Doris is Mrs. Pearson’s daughter. She comes and asks her mother to iron her yellow shirt. She has to wear it tonight. Mrs. Pearson doesn’t answer but keeps on smoking. Doris is astounded. She can’t believe her eyes. Then she asks for tea. Mrs. Pearson replies that it is not ready. Doris becomes angry. She again insists on having her shirt ironed. Mrs. Pearson reacts strongly. She scolds Doris. She puts in twice the hours Doris puts and gets no wages and thanks for it. She even taunts her daughter for choosing a “buck teeth and half-witted” boyfriend. Doris is nearly in tears.
- Now Comes the Turn of Cyril
Cyril, Mrs. Pearson’s son comes. He asks if tea is ready. “No” answers Mrs. Pearson. Cyril asks if she is “feeling off-colour.” Then he asks his mother if she has put his things out. Mrs. Pearson ignores him. She asks for some stout. Doris and Cyril are shocked to see their mother smoking and drinking. They are surprised at the sudden change that has come in their mother. They think that perhaps she has gone ‘barmy’. ButMrs. Pearson advocates equal work for all. She wants a forty-hour week for all. She refuses to work even an hour more.
- Finally Comes Mr George Pearson
George, Mrs. Pearson’s husband comes. He is surprised to find her drinking stout. Mrs. Pearson replies that she likes drinking for a change. Mrs. Pearson makes a mockery of her husband. He is “one of their standing jokes” at the club. They call him “Pompy-Ompy Pearson” because they think he is “so slow and pompous”. She taunts him that they always laugh at him behind his back. They call him names. She warns him that if he shouts at her she will slap his big fat silly face. George exits slowly, almost as if somebody has hit him over the head.
- Actual Mrs. Pearson can’t bear anymore
Actual Mrs. Pearson requests Mrs. Fitzgerald that they must change back immediately. The drama has gone far enough. She can’t see her husband and children being so miserable. AgainMrs. Pearson and Mrs. Fitzgerald mutter as before and they come back to their original personalities. Mrs. Pearson becomes real Mrs. Pearson again. Mrs. Fitzgerald asks Mrs. Pearson that she shouldn’t be soft again. If she doesn’t firm up, everything will go waste. She should not give any explanation or apologize for what she has done.
- George, Doris and Cyril are transformed
George, Doris and Cyril file in through the door. They look anxiously at Mrs. Pearson. Mrs. Pearson smiles. They smile back at her. She declares that they will have a nice family game of rummy. Then the children will get the supper ready while she has a talk with their father. George is relaxed. It suits him. Cyril says that it’s all right. Doris hesitates but Mrs. Pearson reacts sharply. She also gives in and hastily gives her consent.
- Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. Fitzgerald were two contrasting characters.
- Mrs. Pearson was gentle and timid. Mrs. Fitzgerald was strong and dominating.
- Mrs. Fitzgerald knew how the spoilt children of Mrs. Pearson and her husband made her work all the day like a servant.
- Mrs. Fitzgerald knew how to read fortune and also the art of magic. She had learnt from the East.
- She decided to set the spoilt members of Mrs. Pearson’s family right. For this purpose she caused the exchange of personalities.
- NowMrs. Pearson got the personality traits of Mrs. Fitzgerald. She was transformed into a strong and dominating woman.
- First she encountered Doris, the spoilt daughter.
- She asked her mother to iron her yellow silk and get her tea ready.
- Mrs. Pearson (transformed) snubbed and ignored her. She asked Doris to help herself.
- Then came Cyril. He demanded that all his things be taken out and ordered for tea.
- Mrs. Pearson (with Mrs. Fitzgerald’s personality) shocked him by refusing to do anything for him.
- Doris and Cyril were further shocked to see their mother smoking and drinking.
- Then came George. He spent most of his time at the club.
- Mrs. Pearson taunted him that he was one of their standing jokes. They called him Pompy-Ompy-Pearson.
- The real Mrs. Pearson couldn’t bear the drama any more. She found her children and husband in a miserable condition now.
- Mrs. Pearson pressed Mrs. Fitzgerald to change back personalities as they were before the change.
- It was done and Mrs. Pearson was once again in her real-self.
- She declared that they were going to play a family game of rummy. Then children would prepare supper while she would talk with their father.
- Everyone supported Mrs. Pearson. She became the real mistress and boss of her family.
|Questions & Answers|
Short Answer Questions
- 1. Contrast the two ladies :Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. Fitzgerald.
Ans. Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. Fitzgerald are two contrasting characters. Mrs. Pearson is a ‘pleasant but worried looking woman’. She is in her forties. Mrs. Fitzgerald is older and heavier. Mrs. Pearson is timid and confused. Mrs. Fitzgerald is a strong and dominating character. The two have sharply contrasting voices. Mrs. Pearson speaks in a light voice while Mrs. Fitzgerald speaks in a deep one.
- 2. What picture of Mrs. Pearson do you form in the opening of the play andwhy?
Ans. Mrs. Pearson appears to be a timid and confused lady. She is in her forties. She is a devoted housewife who enjoys serving her husband and children. She is ignored and made to work throughout the day. Inspite of their illtreatment, neglect and exploitation, she lovesthem all. She endures everything without any murmur or protest. We feel sympathy for her. We wish her to be a little more assertive.
- 3. How does Mrs. Fitzgerald tell Mrs. Pearson’s fortune?
Ans. Mrs. Fitzgerald holds the cards with which she tells the fortune of Mrs. Pearson. Mrs. Pearson asks where she learnt the art of telling fortune. Mrs. Fitzgerald replies that she learnt it from the East. It took twelve years to learn this art. Her husband served there in the army. She tells that Mrs. Pearson’s fortune depends on herself now. It can make or mar it by her own actions.
- 4 Why doesn’t Mrs. Pearson become ‘the boss’ of her family as Mrs. Fitzgeraldadvises her to be?
What is Mrs. Fitzgerald’s advice to Mrs.Pearson ?
Ans. Mrs. Fitzgerald advises Mrs. Pearson that she should be the mistress of her own house and the boss of her family. It is easier said than done. Mrs. Pearson is fond of her husband and children. It is true that they are ‘thoughtless and selfish’. It is very difficult to annoy them. She doesn’t know how to tackle them.
- 5. What does Mrs. Fitzgerald find the cause of Mrs. Pearson’s misery ?
Ans. Mrs. Fitzgerald thinks that Mrs. Pearson is responsible for spoiling her husband and children. It does neither good to her nor her children. She runs after them all the time. She takes their orders as if she were their servant in the house. She stays at home every night while they go out enjoying themselves. She should assert herself and become the mistress and boss of the family.
- 6. How do Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. Fitzgerald exchange their personalities ?
Ans. Mrs. Fitzgerald wants Mrs. Pearson to let her set the members of her family right. Mrs. Pearson replies that no one else can do it. The members of her family won’t allow any other to dictate them. Mrs. Fitzgerald tells that they can exchange places. She looks like her and Mrs. Pearson like Mrs. Fitzgerald. It won’t last long and they can change back at will. Mrs. Fitzgerald holds her hand and mutters: “ArshtattadumArshtatta”. In this way, they assume their bodies.
- 7. What is the effect on Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. Fitzgerald after they exchangetheir personalities?
Ans. Mrs. Fitzgerald has learnt the art of magic from the East. The trick helps them to exchange their personalities. The moment personalities change bodies all the traits of Mrs. Fitzgerald enter Mrs. Pearson’s personality. Mrs. Pearson doesn’t remain meek, timid and confused. She becomes aggressive and dominating. On the other hand, Mrs. Fitzgerald becomes soft, pleasant and timid.
Q.8. How does Mrs. Pearson start behaving after the exchange of personalities ? Name the changes that surprise her children and husband.
Ans. As the exchange of personalities takes place, Mrs. Pearson receives all the traits ofMrs. Fitzgerald. She becomes aggressive and dominating. She becomes the boss of the family.She takes Doris and Cyril to task for their inaction. She asks them to help themselves. Shedoesn’t spare even her husband. She reminds George how people laugh at him behind hisback. They call him “Pompy-Ompy Pearson”.
- 9. Describe Doris. How does she trouble her mother ?
Ans. Doris Pearson is the daughter of Mrs. Pearson. She is a pretty girl in her early twenties. She looks pleasant but she is a spoilt ‘child’. She makes her mother run after her all the time. She gives orders to her as if Mrs. Pearson were the servant in the house. She asks her mother to iron her yellow silk. She expects tea to be served to her. She always thinks of her and her boy-friend Charlie.
- 10. How does Mrs. Pearson (with Mrs. Fitzgerald’s personality) make fun of CharlieSpence?
Ans. Charlie Spence is Doris’s boy-friend. Mrs. Pearson (with Mrs. Fitzgerald’s personality) doesn’t like him at all. She ridicules her daughter Doris for having such a worthless boyfriend. She calls him “buck-teeth” and “half-witted”. She advises Doris to find out a better boyfriend than Charlie Spence.
- 11. How does Mrs. Pearson (assuming the personality of Mrs. Fitzgerald) set Dorisright ?
Ans. Doris is a spoilt girl. She orders Mrs. Pearson as if she were a servant in the house. She asks her to press her yellow silk. She has to go out with her boy-friend Charlie. She also asks her to serve her tea. Mrs. Pearson takes her to task. She ignores her completely. She asks Doris to help herself. She even ridicules Doris’s boy-friend Charlie. She calls him “buck teeth and half-witted”. Doris nearly comes to tears.
- 12. Who is Cyril? What is his attitude towards his mother?
Ans. Cyril is the masculine counterpart of Doris. He is also ‘spoilt’ like his sister. He is in the habit of treating his mother very casually. He asks if tea is ready. When Mrs. Pearson Bays ‘no’, he angrily answers back : “Why not” ? Then he orders : “Did you put my things out ?” So he makes his mother run all the time doing one thing or the other.
- 13. How does Mrs. Pearson (assuming the personality of Mrs. Fitzgerald) tackleher spoilt son Cyril?
Ans. Mrs. Pearson becomes dominating and aggressive after ‘the exchange of personalities’. She can’t tolerate any ‘nonsense’ of her children any more. Cyril is in the habit of making his mother run doing things. He comes and at once orders for tea. She ignores him and refuses to oblige him. Then he asks if she has put his things out. She replies : “Can’t remember”. “I don’t like mending” says his mother. She asks him to help himself.
- 14. Describe George. What is his attitude towards his wife ?
Ans. George is the husband of Mrs. Pearson. He is about fifty. He is fundamentally decent. He is solemn but self-important and pompous. He is heavy and slow-moving. His male ego suffers a jolt when he comes to know that his wife hasn’t kept tea ready for him. When he needs it or not, she must have kept tea ready like an obedient wife. He is always at the club and spends little time with his wife.
- 15. How does Mrs. Pearson (assuming the personality of Mrs. Fitzgerald) take herhusband to task? How do people laugh at him at the club ?
Ans. George, Mrs. Pearson’s husband is solemn but self-important and pompous. Mrs. Pearson (actually Mrs. Fitzgerald) ridicules him. He has become a standing joke for the people at the club. They call him Pompy-Ompy Pearson because he is slow and pompous. He loses his temper and glares at her. Mrs. Pearson threatens to slap his “big fat silly face”. George reconciles in the end.
- 16. Why does Mrs. Fitzgerald (actually Mrs. Pearson) press for changing backto their real personalities?
Ans. The real Mrs. Pearson (now Mrs. Fitzgerald) can’t bear the drama any more dose is too strong and bitter to be swallowed. She feels that her husband and children are really miserable. After all, they are not Mrs. Fitzgerald’s “husband and children”. She can’t stand it anymore. They must change back and come to their real selves.
- 17. What final advice does Mrs. Fitzgerald give to Mrs. Pearson after thechanging back of personalities and why ?
Ans. Mrs. Fitzgerald knows Mrs. Pearson’s mild and soft nature. She fears that Mrs. Pearson can go soft and feel sorry for what she has done. Then everything will go waste. Therefore, she advises her to be tough with them. Only then she can make them work for themselves.
- 18. How does Mrs. Pearson ultimately win over her children and husband ?
Ans. The time is ripe for reconciliation. Doris, Cyril and George have received more than enough share of the heavy dose. Mrs. Pearson decides to have a nice family game rummy. She asks the children to get the supper ready. Everyone agrees. Doris hesitates but her mother reacts sharply. Ultimately, everyone willingly supports Mrs. Pearson’s suggestion.
- 19. What change do you notice in Mrs. Pearson’s husband and her childrenat the end of the play? Does Mrs. Pearson succeed in her mission ?
Ans. In the end it is the ‘Mother’s Day.’ Mrs. Pearson carries the day. She succeeds in setting all the members of her family right. There is a total change in them. They are no more haughty and overbearing. They are now ready to share the household work with her. The children speak politely and meekly. They agree to get supper ready while she enjoys conversing with their dad.
- 20. Justify the title of the play ‘Mother’s Day’.
Ans. J.B. Priestley has titled his oneact play ‘Mother’s Day’. The title conveys a message. Husbands and children must respect wives and mothers in their families. They must not order and keep them running all the time doing one work or the other. Mrs. Pearson with Mrs. Fitzgerald’s help succeeds in setting her spoilt children and husband right. The mother carries the day and wins over all the members of the family to her side.
LONG ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS
- 1. Describe how Mrs. Pearson is treated by her own children and husbandbefore they are set right by her.
Ans. Mrs. Pearson represents millions of mothers who are made to work like servants in their own houses. Their husbands and children enjoy themselves and have nice time outside. Only they are doomed to drudgery. Mrs. Pearson is made to run after her husband George and children Doris and Cyril. She takes their order as if they are the masters of the family and she is their attendant. While they enjoy themselves outside she stays at home every night.
Mrs. Pearson’s daughter Doris is a pretty but spoilt girl. She is in her early twenties. She has to go out tonight. She asks her mother to iron her yellow silk. She expects her mother to do all such things without questioning her. Then she orders for tea. It must be kept ready. She thinks nothing except having nice time and fun with her boy-friend Charlie Spence. Cyril is Mrs. Pearson’s son. He is the masculine counterpart of Doris. He has to stay outside tonight. He asks if his mother has put his things out. The poor mother runs all the time putting his things out or mending them. George, Mrs. Pearson’s husband spends most of his time at the club. The people at the club call him Pompy-Ompy Pearson because he is slow and pompous.
Mr Pearson expects his wife to keep tea ready even though he doesn’t need it. He suffers from the inflated male ego.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Pearson works like a servant in her own family. She gets no wages for her work. Nor does anybody thank her for her services. She is taken for granted by her children as well as by her husband.
- 2. Compare and contrast Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. Fitzgerald.
Ans. Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. Fitzgerald are two contrasting characters. Actually, they are foil to each other. Mrs. Pearson is a pleasant looking woman in her forties. She appears to be confused and worried. Mrs. Fitzgerald is older. She is heavier and has a ‘strong and sinister personality’. Mrs.Pearson is timid and gentle. Mrs. Fitzgerald is liberated and bold. She smokes and plays with cards. The two ladies have sharply contrasting voices. Mrs. Pearson speaks in a ‘light, flurried sort of tone’. She has ‘a touch of suburban Cockney’. Mrs. Fitzgerald has a deep voice. Her accent is Irish.
Mrs. Pearson has been reduced to a mere servant in her own house. Her children and husband make her run all the time. She has to dance to their beck and call. Her children Doris and Cyril are spoilt children. They are also selfish and thoughtless. They don’t pay that respect to their mother which she really deserves. Mr George also treats his wife rather indifferently and coldly. Mrs. Pearson is condemned to drudgery. Mrs. Fitzgerald, on the other hand, is a liberated woman. She is bold and dominating. She enjoys good time and is the mistress of herself and the family.
Mrs. Pearson is tender and mild. When Mrs.Fitzerald gives a heavy dose to Doris, Cyril and George, she can’t bear it. She asks her to stop the drama at once. She presses her to change back their personalities. Mrs. Fitzgerald is firm, solid and result-oriented. She sets all the spoilt members of Mrs. Pearson’s family right. She is a better judge of men and matters than Mrs.Pearson.
- 3. Why does Mrs. Pearson press Mrs. Fitzgerald for personalities changing bodies once again so that both of them can come back in their real selves ?
Ans. No doubt, after personalities change the bodies, good results start coming. Mrs. Pearson used to be a meek and weak woman. She becomes bold and dominating in Mrs. Fitzgerald’s personality. She becomes quite aggressive. No doubt, the spoilt children Doris and Cyril are taken to task. Even George is ridiculed and humiliated. Everyone is warned that all will have a forty-hour week. Mrs. Pearson will be free at the weekend. Doris almost comes to tears and Cyril becomes hopeless.
The real Mrs. Pearson realises that she can’t bear this drama any more. George is threatened to be slapped on his big fat silly face. This is too much. She moans “Oh, no, no, no, please, Mrs. Fitzgerald”. She presses her for the exchange of personalities. She really loves her children and husband. She can’t see them in such a miserable condition. After both the women come to their real selves, Mrs. Pearson is a transformed lady. She doesn’t give up her love and affection for her children and husband. But she is not the same old Mrs. Pearson. She reacts sharply when Doris hesitates to show her agreement. She really becomes the mistress and boss of her family.
- 4. Youare Mrs.Pearson of the story. Write a letter to your friend how your next door neighbourMrs. Fitzgerald helped in making you the mistress of your own house and setting your spoilt children and husband right.
12 Hudson Square London
20th March, 2008
Can you believe a weak and timid woman becoming the mistress and boss of her family ? It may sound like a miracle. But it is true. This is what I am today. My spoilt children Doris and Cyril are tamed now. So is my husband George. Now I set the agenda and they follow it. Now I am the real mistress and boss of my family.
It happened only a few months ago. Mrs. Fitzgerald knows the art of magic. She has learnt it from the East. She made me utter some strange words. Within a few momentsour personalities got exchanged. I became now a strong and dominating woman. I inherited the personality of Mrs. Fitzgerald. First I dealt with Doris. She was pretty but a spoilt daughter in her early twenties. She made me run all the day doing one thing or the other. She was shocked to see her mother smoking and drinking. She got angry when she was ignored and asked to help herself. Cyril too met with the same fate. He was very demanding. He shouted for keeping all his things out and for tea. He was snubbed and asked to help himself. Then came the turn of George. You know he used to spend all the time at the club. I ridiculed him. I reminded him that he was the standing joke of the people at the club. They called him Pompy-Ompy Pearson for being sluggish and pompous. Everyone was set right. We exchanged personalities again. But now I was a different Mrs. Pearson, the mistress and boss of my family.
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