Our Country’s Good


Timberlake Wertenbaker

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Captain Arthur Phillip (Governor Phillip)

A captain of the Royal Navy who has been brought out of retirement to serve as governor of the penal colony in Australia. Phillip is a kind and empathetic man who is against overt displays… read analysis of Captain Arthur Phillip (Governor Phillip)

Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark

A man who, unlike his fellow guards, is focused on remaining loyal to his wife, Betsey Alicia. This, however, is quite difficult, since Alicia stayed behind in England when Ralph came to Australia to… read analysis of Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark

Mary Brenham

A convict in the penal colony. Unlike many of her fellow convicts, Mary went to school until she was ten. Because of this, she’s able to read, which sets her apart from many of the… read analysis of Mary Brenham

Captain Watkin Tench

An officer in the penal colony, and one of the primary antagonists of the play. Unlike Governor Phillip, Tench believes that criminals can’t be reformed. In keeping with this, he thinks it’s a waste… read analysis of Captain Watkin Tench

Captain David Collins (Judge Collins)

Another captain overseeing the penal colony in Australia. Collins has been chosen to fulfill the position of the colony’s judge. As such, he helps Phillip create a moral and just society, eventually stressing the importance… read analysis of Captain David Collins (Judge Collins)
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Midshipman Harry Brewer

A low-ranking officer in the Royal Navy. Harry has worked for Governor Phillip for a long time, though he himself isn’t involved in much of the penal colony’s decision-making. Instead, he focuses primarily on his… read analysis of Midshipman Harry Brewer

Duckling Smith

A convict in the penal colony. Duckling is romantically involved with Harry Brewer and even lives with him in his tent, though she resents him because of how controlling he is. Indeed, he doesn’t even… read analysis of Duckling Smith

Liz Morden

One of the convicts in the penal colony. Liz is the most insubordinate prisoner of the entire group, often tempting the guards to punish her by misbehaving or speaking out of turn. It is for… read analysis of Liz Morden

Handy Baker

A marine who thinks it’s unfair that the officers and the convicts get the same amount of food. Because of this, he steals from the food supply with Ketch and several others. Handy Baker is… read analysis of Handy Baker

Ketch Freeman (James Freeman)

Another convict in the penal colony. Along with Handy Baker, Ketch is part of the group that steals from the colony’s food supply at the beginning of the play. Unlike the others, though, he… read analysis of Ketch Freeman (James Freeman)

Dabby Bryant

A convict in the penal colony. A loud and crass individual, Dabby is Mary’s closest friend in the settlement, which is why she decides that—since Mary’s going to be in the play—she wants to… read analysis of Dabby Bryant

John Arscott

One of the convicts in the penal colony. Ralph casts Arscott in The Recruiting Officer, but the prisoner runs away with Henry Kable, Black Caesar, and several others before the first rehearsal… read analysis of John Arscott

Robert Sideway

Another convict in the penal colony, and an actor in Ralph’s play. Sideway is a smooth-talking and well-mannered man who presents himself as a sophisticated gentleman. A pick-pocket by profession, he has a great… read analysis of Robert Sideway

John Wisehammer

A convict in the penal colony, and another actor in Ralph’s play. Wisehammer isn’t initially cast in The Recruiting Officer, but Mary encourages him to join when he talks to her about his… read analysis of John Wisehammer

Black Caesar

A convict in the penal colony who hails from Madagascar. Caesar is never officially cast in The Recruiting Officer, but he decides that he simply must be involved. After initially running away with Arscottread analysis of Black Caesar

Major Robbie Ross

A major in the Royal Marines, and one of the guards in the penal colony. Along with Tench, Ross is one of Our Country’s Good’s primary antagonists, since he doesn’t believe it’s a… read analysis of Major Robbie Ross

Henry Kable

A convict in the penal colony. Although Ralph casts him in The Recruiting Officer, Kable runs away on the same day as the first rehearsal. Taking Black Caesar, John Arscott, and three… read analysis of Henry Kable
Minor Characters
Reverend Johnson
The penal colony’s sole reverend. Reverend Johnson’s primary concern has to do with whether or not The Recruiting Officer espouses appropriate morals. As long as the play sets forth positive religious values, he agrees with Governor Phillip and Ralph that it could only benefit the convicts.
Thomas Barrett
A seventeen-year-old convict who is hanged along with Handy Baker for stealing food from the colony’s rations. Along with Handy, Thomas’s ghost comes back to haunt Harry Brewer.
Captain Jemmy Campbell
One of the guards in the penal colony. One of Major Ross’s cronies, Campbell is constantly drunk, and though he always aligns with Ross, he can’t quite hide how amused he is by The Recruiting Officer.
Meg Long
A convict in the penal colony known for sleeping with the guards. “Shitty Meg”—as everyone calls her—tries to audition for The Recruiting Officer, but Ralph refuses to cast her.
Betsey Alicia
Ralph’s wife, who has remained in England while he goes to the Australian penal colony.
The Aboriginal Australian
An aboriginal man who at various moments throughout the play delivers brief monologues about the arrival of the British in Australia, outlining how the area’s indigenous population perceives the newcomers. By the end of the play, the Aboriginal man and his people are dying of small pox.