It is important to be aware of the sequence of events and what effect that has on our appreciation of the text.

There are often climaxes at the end of Acts:

  • in Act I John hits Jenny
  • in Act II Maggie breaks down
  • in Act III, Maggie asserts herself as head of the house

Within the Acts, different scenes are deliberately juxtaposed.

In Act I, Scene 2, we see Alec and Isa’s dysfunctional relationship and Alec’s drunkenness before we are presented with the positive interaction between John and Maggie. This highlights the strong bond between the parents.

It also alerts us to what the situation could have been, had John kept drinking.

We also must look at the events of Act II, Scene 1 as crucial in prompting Maggie’s hysteria in the next scene.

Bit by bit they build up to Maggie's collapse - Maggie returns from the hospital without Bertie who has TB, then Jenny departs and John despairs.