The Earl of Loam fancies himself a radical, modern thinker, a true futurist and intellectual, and to prove that class is nonexistent and all men are equal, throws a tea for his household staff once a month, and forces his three indolent, fashionable daughters, and any guests they might have at the time, to serve as hosts. This social transgression annoys his entire household, especially Crichton, the butler, a man who holds strong opinions about the dignity of the British ruling class, the sanctity of the established order, and the tendency of Nature to have the elite few rule over the many. To prove his point, Lord Loam takes a group composed of himself, his daughters -- Mary, Catherine, and Agatha -- his nephew (and suitor to Agatha) Ernest, and Treherne the clergyman (suitor to Catherine) on a sea voyage with only two servants -- Crichton and Tweeny, the humble “between maid” -- to take care of them, a form of “roughing it” in the wild Atlantic waters. When the party is shipwrecked on a deserted island, where a living can be hewn from the wilderness only by those with the skill to do so, the admirable Crichton proves to be the most intelligent, resourceful, and able man to command the party. After a brief resistance on everyone’s part, survival compels them to follow his lead, and after two years’ time, Crichton builds a utopian island home, an ingenious little civilization where he rules, kindly but firmly, believing that on an island, Nature requires him to step into the elite role of master, and the formerly aristocratic others, now his worshipful servants, live a life composed of healthy exercise and willing labor. Crichton’s happiness is nearly complete when Lord Loam’s eldest daughter, Mary, happily accepts his proposal of marriage. But when the party is rescued, the new social order crumbles as Lord Loam reasserts himself, Mary returns to her stuffy fiance, and Crichton steps back into his former role. Will Mary’s mother-in-law to-be discover the scandalous events of the past two years? Will Crichton’s sense of self-sacrifice stand up to extreme insult? Will Ernest, who has written a thrilling memoir of the island, starring himself, ruin everything by letting slip the truth? Hilarity and hypocrisy run rampant, and upstairs/downstairs meets indoors/outdoors in J. M. Barrie’s fantastical adventure comedy The Admirable Crichton, which explores divisions of social class, the strict hierarchical orders in place at the time -- and indeed, in many times -- and the effects of Nature on all sorts of behaviors.
The Admirable Crichton guide sections