The distinction of the play is in the characters presented. Richard Rowan, a writer newly returned to his native Dublin; Bertha, his young wife; and Robert Hand, a journalist, are unusual people. They are Catholic Irish, and two of them, Richard Rowan and Robert Hand, would pass beyond good and evil with words derived from Catholic philosophy on their lips. The play is a triangle, but we forget to name it so because of the oddness of the trio's relation. The characters in the triangle are Richard, Bertha, and Robert. In a way this triangle is duplicated by another, a shadowy one: Richard Rowan, Robert Hand, and Robert's cousin and supposed betrothed, Beatrice Justice. Richard Rowan is a man with a hurt soul. He is deeply in love with Bertha, a girl with whom he eloped some years before, but Bertha is not adequate to the whole of his personality. He corresponds with Beatrice Justice, and his new work is influenced by her. Moreover, he has been unfaithful to Bertha through many casual connections. He knows, too, that Robert Hand, his soul-friend of former days, is making love to Bertha. He will not deny her a particle of freedom, but he is tortured by a doubt as to her faithfulness. The play ends inconclusively-without Richard's
having attained that liberation that he has been striving for with such agony . . . Bertha, with her candid, forgiving nature, may cure Richard of his wound. But in the last scene he has hardly been frank with her. For in the second act he has told Robert Hand:
[quotes from Act II] So he accuses himself, and Robert tells him that the Church has lost a theologian in him. But Robert Hand is something of a theologian, too, and he can quote Duns Scotus with effect. Meanwhile, Beatrice Justice has faded out of the play.