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14 July 2018



About the Characters

Abel Merryweather - Mr. Merryweather is over seventy, he is bright and vigorous with a twinkle in his eye. He believes in eating, drinking and being merry he is frank and straightforward. He takes the wise decision of disowning his children and start making his life more comfortable by remarrying at the age of past seventy.

Amelia Slater - She is the elder daughter of Mr. Abel Merryweather. She is a greedy, stingy and materialistic woman. Mrs. Slater can stoop down to any level to satisfy her greed. She is a dominating wife and a vulgar woman, prepared to do any amount of straight talking to get her own way.  

Elizabeth Jordan - She is the sister of Amelia Slater and the second daughter of Mr. Abel Merryweather. Like her sister, she too has no feelings for her father nor for her sister. She is stout, complacent, impassive and has an irritating air of being always right.

Henry Slater - Henry Slater is Amelia’s husband and is far more scrupulous than any other person in this play. He is more sensible than the other characters of the play.Hence, he gives the logical suggestions while talking about the obituary notice to be given in the paper. He is a henpecked husband.

Ben Jordan - Ben Jordan is the husband of Elizabeth and he is a jolly little man with a chirpy voice. Accustomed to be humorous but at present he is trying to adapt himself to the regrettable occasion.

Victoria Slater - A girl of ten, Victoria is an obedient child. Very fond of her grandfather and she has genuine feelings of love towards him. She is a precocious child. The presence of this young girl in the play comes as a whiff of cool breeze in the stuffiness generated by the adults’ scheming, quarrelling and scrupulosity.


In the play The Dear Departed, Stanley Houghton satirizes the degradation of moral values in the family. In trying to grab the things belonging to their father, the children completely disregard modesty, decency and obligation towards their family.

In the beginning of the play, Mrs. Slater goes to offer something to her father Abel Merry weather and finds him quite cold, not responding at all. He is motionless. So, she declares that her father is no more. Accordingly, her sister and her husband, the Jordans are informed about the sudden demise of their father. Mrs. Slater and her husband are busy making arrangements for the mourning. They are expecting the Jordans to join them. They start using the various belongings of their father. Victoria, daughter of Mrs. Slater does not like all this but reluctantly she is helping her parents in these matters.

Victoria is asked to keep a watch on the main door to inform her mother about the arrival of the Jordans. Mrs. Slater is not willing to share her father's belongings with Mrs. Jordan. When the articles are being shifted, the Jordans arrive. The family members start a detailed conversation on the deeds of their deceased father, planning the details of the obituary announcement in the papers and the insurance premium payment. They start a discussion over the distribution of their father's belongings among them.

Surprisingly, at this point of time, the play witnesses a turn of events. Victoria who has been sent to the grandfather's room, returns very scared. She tells everyone that grandfather is alive. To everybody's surprise, grandfather is seen coming downstairs. He is surprised to find the Jordans over there too. No one dares to tell him that he had been declared 'dead'. While taking tea, the truth comes out and he gets to know how his daughters have been in a hurry to divide his possessions among them.

On knowing the harsh reality, the grandfather decides not to live with any of his daughters. He even expresses his final intention to change his will. He declares that he is going to give everything to Mrs. Shorrocks whom he will marry. He feels that by marrying Mrs. Shorrocks he will have someone to look after him whole-heartedly without considering him to be a burden.

Video Lesson by of Nirmal Ashram Deepamala School (The Dear Departed 1 and 2) - Click here

Video Lesson by Digital Teacher - Click here

Video Lesson by Shubham Thripati (The Dear Departed Part - 2) - Click here

Video Lesson by Anmol Garg (The Dear Departed) - Click here

Video Lesson by Sherlock Holmes (The Dear Departed) - Click here

Points to remember:
  • ·         Mr. Abel Merryweather is the father of his two daughters – Amelia and Elizabeth. Amelia is married to Henry Slater and Elizabeth to Ben Jordan. Victoria is the Slater’s only daughter. The Jordan have a son – Jimmy.
  • ·         The problem is, the two daughters didn’t love their father, especially since his wife died years ago (we do not know how many years ago).
  • ·         If the two daughters tolerated their father, it was only for his wealth and assets.
  • ·         At present, tor the last three years, Mr. Abel has been staying with Amelia’s family, upstairs. Before that, he had been with daughter Elizabeth who quarreled with Amelia for not taking their father back.
  • ·         This morning, when Victoria went to see her grandfather, the old man was found dead. Without checking if the old man was really dead, the Slaters sent a telegram to the Jordans announcing the much awaited death.
  • ·         While waiting for the Jordans, the Slaters get the best of the mourning dresses, steals all that they could from the dead man’s room – a bureau in exchange of their old chest of drawers, and a pair of slippers.
  • ·         The Jordans arrive. Instead of going upstairs to see the dead father, the two daughters and their husbands sit for tea and start deviding their father’s things.
  • ·         The two daughters start blaming each other and their husbands support them.
  • ·         While the tea goes on, Mr. Abel, who had been sleeping due to exhaustion, comes down from his room, in body and the realization strikes the Slaters and the Jordans alike. They cannot quite accept the fact that Mr. Abel wasn’t really dead.
  • ·         Mr. Abel wonders at seeing the Jordans after a long time and wants to know who has died in the family for which they had put on black mourning dresses. With great difficulty and confusion, they try to conceal from him that it was for him that they had put on mourning dresses.
  • ·         Slowly Mr. Abel learns that his daughters had no real love for him and that they had thought that he had been dead and were getting ready to bury him.
  • ·         Mr. Abel decides to make a new will – one that disqualifies the two daughters from inheriting his wealth.
  • ·         Mr. Abel then announces that he was getting married to his old friend’s widow because he needed someone to love him in reality. He then invites his children and grand children to attend his marriage and goes out.

Click to download Complete GLOSSARY from "The Dear Departed"

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Click to download Simple Past and Past Perfect usage and Practice


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