Our Country’s Good

by

Timberlake Wertenbaker

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Our Country’s Good: Act Two, Scene Three Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Inside his tent at night, Harry drinks large quantities of rum and has a conversation with Handy Baker’s ghost, speaking out both as himself and as Handy. When he calls for Duckling, Handy says, “She’s on the beach, Harry, waiting for her young Handy Baker.” Tormented, Harry orders Handy to leave him alone, but Handy tells him that “the dead never go away.” Handy then taunts him by saying that he doesn’t have possession over Duckling. “I didn’t hang you,” Harry declares at one point, but Handy challenges this, knowing that Harry wanted him to die. “All right,” Harry admits, “I wanted you hanged, Go away!” Just when Handy finally leaves him, though, Thomas Barrett appears (again narrated by Harry himself) and talks about how “horrible” it is to be dead.
In this scene, Harry finds himself unable to keep his guilty feelings at bay. Indeed, he is literally haunted by the convicts whose deaths he helped bring about. He knows that he had an extra incentive to arrange Handy Baker’s execution, since Handy was Duckling’s other lover. Unable to forgive himself, then, he is tormented by the memory of what he’s done.
Themes
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
As he talks to the ghost of Thomas Barrett, Harry periodically calls out for Duckling, who eventually comes rushing to him. She tells him that she heard him all the way from the beach, and when he insists that he’s seeing ghosts, she tells him he’s just having a nightmare. “No. I see them,” he says. “Let me come inside you.” She asks him if this will calm him down, and he says that it will, so she agrees. However, he pauses for a moment and asks what she was doing on the beach. “You were with him, he told me, you were with Handy Baker,” he says.
When Harry asks to “come inside” Duckling, the audience sees that he tries to use sex to calm himself down. However, his guilt is too strong in this moment, and he finds himself unable to keep himself from accusing Duckling of cheating on him with a ghost, despite the fact that Duckling has agreed to do whatever she can to help him. As he melts down and grows angry with her, it becomes clear that he has lost himself to his stress and guilt.
Themes
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon