Table of Contents
KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
Each act of the play has its own unique setting. Act I takes place in a distinctly English drawing room belonging to Mr. Roebuck Ramsden, a man who reeks of "old British solidity." The year is presumably 1903, so there is almost certainly a Victorian or post- Victorian feel to the handsomely furnished study. Act II is moved outdoors to a picturesque country setting. Stage directions point to the scenic beauty of a park, part of a country house near Richmond. In Act III, the hero is taken to Spain, where the playwright poetically describes a scene of rolling slopes of brown olive trees surrounding a magnificent Spanish mountain in the Sierra Nevadas. In the middle of this act, the setting dissolves into a dream that takes place in hell. Act IV is in the garden of a villa in Granada. The villa is expensive and pretentiously opulent. A little iron garden table with books on it completes the picture of the place where all the action will be resolved.
The protagonist and hero of the play. He is described as a slim, well-built young man with hazel-colored hair and a beard. Although extremely excitable by nature, Tanner is sensitive and earnest; he is also prone to exaggeration. He defies authority and hates obsolete ideas. He also writes a book called Revolutionistís Handbook.
Miss Ann Whitefield
A beautiful woman described as nearly perfect in appearance. She is graceful and lovely in every sense; but she is also aggressively determined to get what she wants. Her father has recently died and left her under the supervision of Mr. Tanner and Mr. Ramsden. She is determined to marry Mr. Tanner.
Mr. Roebuck Ramsden
A proper man who is the picture of respectability and who prides himself on his authority. He considers himself an advanced thinker and a fearless, outspoken reformer; in reality, he is bound by convention and dated ideas. He dislikes Tanner, probably because the young man is all the things he would like to think he is.
An actual character in the play. He introduces the theme of the drama by talking about the Life Force. He is also the character to mention the Nietzche concept of Superman, which is part of the title.