Character of Ruth Honeywill in Justice
Ruth Honeywill is a splendid example of Galsworthy’s power of depicting the nobler side of woman’s nature. She is a pretty, attractive woman of only twenty-six. Like Falder she is caught in the trap of a social order that has only tortures and sufferings in store for her. With her children she is left languishing in a hell where her husband makes her life unbearable. But she suffers silently and with dignity, while the entire society looks indulgently on, never trying to heal her bruised and battered existence, never accusing her brutal husband even when he almost throttles her to death. She has nowhere to go for redress, so, however unbearable the unhappy woman goes on suffering.
In Falder, another victim of the social order, Ruth finds a friend and sees a flickering hope. Falder loves her and she loves Falder; their love is like the only straw that two drowning persons clutch at. Falder is poor and weak, but his passionate love for her gives ‘the succour and strength to suffer’. Falder restores her faith in life and makes her dream of a new happy home.
One may say that in Falder’s life her presence and love spell disaster: she is the real cause of Falder’s ruin. But, though emotionally involved, she never wants Falder to do anything against his will. She clings to him as she has none else to cling to, but it is beneath her dignity to exploit Falder’s sympathy and weakness towards her. She clings to Falder both as her saviour and as one who loves her. When, in his frantic bid to save Ruth, Falder alters the cheque she is not aware of it. When she knows about it, she does everything to see him exonerated. But that is not to be. Falder is sentenced to penal servitude. The society does not think of Ruth, knowing full well that she cannot go back to her husband.
In Falder’s absence she suffers terribly, doing all sorts of things to earn a living. The separation from Falder is very painful to her, for now she has no hope, no dream, and she fails to see why she should live. But still there is the last flicker of hope that one day Falder will come back and together they will realise their dream of a happy home in a far-away land. When she meets Falder she finds him a complete wreck. He is hounded out of society, shunned by his relatives and skeptical of a future.
Ruth finds him more helpless than herself. So, instead of seeking his help she is anxious to help him rehabilitate. As she is irresistibly charming and disarming she succeeds in persuading Cokeson to let Falder have another chance. She does not think of herself now, her only concern is Falder’s well-being. So when James How is persuaded to take Falder back on condition that he must keep away from Ruth, she does not hesitate to assure James that she will have nothing to do with Falder in future.
It breaks her heart to say so, for to give up Falder is for her to cease living. But even then she is prepared to sacrifice her life only to see Falder rehabilitated. Here, she is a true tragic heroine-almost a foil to Falder. She is unsophisticated, honest, considerate, gentle and generous. She suffers more than Falder does, but she suffers silently and with the dignity of a noble soul. When Falder is desperate and bewildered, she is resolute and resigned.
Ruth does not die like Falder, but her agonised cry exalts her and gives her character the tragic grandeur in the true sense, though the cry sounds a bit pathetic. All her hope dies with Falder and she is left there with the dead body of one who alone could help her dream. Her suffering is all the more painful because she is aware of the fact that she alone is responsible for the tragic end of Falder.
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