Our Country’s Good

by

Timberlake Wertenbaker

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Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark Character Analysis

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 work in the penal colony. A pious man, Ralph says his prayers and writes in his journal, addressing his entries to Alicia and telling her about his life, including his frustration that he hasn’t been promoted to First Lieutenant yet. Just before he’s about to kiss Alicia’s picture a thousand times one night (something he does once a week), Harry Brewer visits him in his tent and mentions that Captain Phillip is looking for someone to direct a play in the colony. Because Ralph thinks Phillip never pays attention to him, he tells Harry to let the Governor know that he has some experience in the theater. As such, he becomes the director of the play, choosing The Recruiting Officer by the Irish playwright George Farquhar and beginning the casting. In particular, he’s impressed by Mary Brenham, whom he casts in the lead role. Throughout the course of rehearsals, Ralph develops a certain fondness for certain convicts and becomes convinced that the play has a positive effect on them. He even convinces Liz Morden to fight harder to prove her innocence when she’s sentenced to death for stealing. In one of the play’s final scenes, Ralph finds Mary rehearsing on the beach and joins her by reciting the lines of her character’s lover. When they eventually embrace, they find that they’re drawn to one another in real life. As such, they suddenly begin taking off their clothes, realizing they’re in love.

Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark Quotes in Our Country’s Good

The Our Country’s Good quotes below are all either spoken by Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark or refer to Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
).
Act One, Scene One Quotes

At night? The sea cracks against the ship. Fear whispers, screams, falls silent, hushed. Spewed from our country, forgotten, bound to the dark edge of the earth, at night what is there to do but seek English cunt, warm, moist, soft, oh the comfort, the comfort of the lick, the thrust into the nooks, the crannies of the crooks of England. Alone, frightened, nameless in this stinking hole of hell, take me, take me inside you, whoever you are. Take me, my comfort and we’ll remember England together.

Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:
Act One, Scene Four Quotes

Duckling’s gone silent on me again. I know it’s because of Handy Baker. I saw him as well as I see you. Duckling wants me, he said, even if you’ve hanged me. At least your poker’s danced its last shindy, I said. At least it’s young and straight, he said, she likes that. I went for him but he was gone. But he’s going to come back, I know it. I didn’t want to hang him, Ralph, I didn’t.

Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

Do you know I saved her life? She was sentenced to be hanged at Newgate for stealing two candlesticks but I got her name put on the transport lists. But when I remind her of that she says she wouldn’t have cared.

Related Symbols: Public Hangings
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
Act One, Scene Six Quotes

In my own small way, in just a few hours, I have seen something change. I asked some of the convict women to read me some lines, these women who behave often no better than animals. And it seemed to me, as one or two—I’m not saying all of them, not at all—but one or two, saying those well-balanced lines […], they seemed to acquire a dignity, they seemed—they seemed to lose some of their corruption. There was one, Mary Brenham, she read so well, perhaps this play will keep her from selling herself to the first marine who offers her bread—

Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:
Act One, Scene Eight Quotes

DABBY. You’re wasting time, girl, he’s ripe for the plucking. You can always tell with men, they begin to walk sideways. And if you don’t—

MARY. Don’t start. I listened to you once before.

DABBY. What would you have done without that lanky sailor drooling over you?

MARY. I would have been less of a whore.

DABBY. Listen, my darling, you’re only a virgin once. You can’t go to a man and say, I’m a virgin except for this one lover I had. After that, it doesn’t matter how many men go through you.

MARY. I’ll never wash the sin away.

DABBY. If God didn’t want women to be whores he shouldn’t have created men who pay for their bodies.

Related Characters: Mary Brenham (speaker), Dabby Bryant (speaker), Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:
Act One, Scene Nine Quotes

When I say my prayers I have a terrible doubt. How can I be sure God is forgiving me? What if he will forgive me, but hasn’t forgiven me yet? That’s why I don’t want to die, Sir. That’s why I can’t die. Not until I am sure. Are you sure?

Related Symbols: Public Hangings
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two, Scene One Quotes

MARY. Liz, we’ve come to rehearse the play.

WISEHAMMER. Rehearse the play?

DUCKLING. The Lieutenant has gone to talk to the Governor. Harry said we could come see you.

MARY. The Lieutenant has asked me to stand in his place so we don’t lose time. We’ll start with the first scene between Melinda and Brazen.

WISEHAMMER. How can I play Captain Brazen in chains?

MARY. This is the theatre. We will believe you.

Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two, Scene Two Quotes

When he treats the slave boy as a rational human being, the boy becomes one, he loses his fear, and he becomes a competent mathematician. A little more encouragement and he might become an extraordinary mathematician. Who knows? You must see your actors in that light.

Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

PHILLIP. Liz Morden—(He pauses.) I had a reason for asking you to cast her as Melinda. Morden is one of the most difficult women in the colony.

RALPH. She is indeed, Sir.

PHILLIP. Lower than a slave, full of loathing, foul mouthed, desperate.

RALPH. Exactly, Sir. And violent.

PHILLIP. Quite. To be made an example of.

RALPH. By hanging?

PHILLIP. No, Lieutenant, by redemption.

Related Symbols: Public Hangings
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

What is a statesman’s responsibility? To ensure the rule of law. But the citizens must be taught to obey that law of their own will. I want to rule over responsible human beings, not tyrannise over a group of animals. I want there to be a contract between us, not a whip on my side, terror and hatred on theirs.

Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two, Scene Five Quotes

I have seen the white of this animal’s bones, his wretched blood and reeky convict urine have spilled on my boots and he’s feeling modest? Are you feeling modest, Sideway?

(He shoves SIDEWAY aside.)

Modesty.

Bryant. Here.

(DABBY comes forward.)

On all fours.

(DABBY goes down on all fours.)

Now wag your tail and bark, and I’ll throw you a biscuit. What? You’ve forgotten? Isn’t that how you begged for your food on the ship? Wag your tail, Bryant, bark! We’ll wait.

Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two, Scene Seven Quotes

DABBY. When dealing with men, always have a contract.

MARY. Love is a contract.

DABBY. Love is the barter of perishable goods. A man’s word for a woman’s body.

Related Characters: Mary Brenham (speaker), Dabby Bryant (speaker), Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark , John Wisehammer
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Our Country’s Good LitChart as a printable PDF.
Our Country’s Good PDF

Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark Character Timeline in Our Country’s Good

The timeline below shows where the character Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark appears in Our Country’s Good. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One, Scene One
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Governance and Justice Theme Icon
On a convict ship bound for Australia in 1787, Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark counts softly and dispiritedly as a prisoner named Robert Sideway receives fifty lashes.... (full context)
Act One, Scene Four
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark is up late one night writing in his diary. He addresses his entry... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...that he saw Handy Baker the night before. “You hanged him a month ago, Harry,” Ralph replies, but Harry insists that Baker has “come back,” explaining that he saw him holding... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Still talking about Duckling, Harry tells Ralph that she claims to not “feel anything” when she’s with him. He then worries that... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Ralph complains that Phillip never notices him, and Harry tells him the Governor wants to stage... (full context)
Act One, Scene Five
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
One day after Ralph decides to direct the play, a prisoner named Meg Long approaches him and says she... (full context)
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
As Meg leaves, Robert Sideway appears, greeting Ralph in a polite manner and telling him that he was “once a gentleman.” When Ralph... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
“Where do I come in, Lieutenant?” Dabby interrupts, and when Ralph asks if she can read, she admits she can’t, though... (full context)
Act One, Scene Six
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Governance and Justice Theme Icon
Ralph argues that the play could alter the way the colony functions (even in just a... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Agreeing with Phillip and trying to convince his peers, Ralph says he has already noted a “change” in some of the female prisoners during the... (full context)
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
One of the other officers mumbles that Mary will probably “sell herself” to Ralph instead of the “first marine who offers her bread,” since he’s taken such an interest... (full context)
Act One, Scene Seven
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...comment about wishing she were dead. To cheer her up, he suggests that she join Ralph’s play. He then explains that Dabby Bryant and Liz Morden are also in the cast,... (full context)
Act One, Scene Eight
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...England. As Dabby waxes poetic about the rain in England, she compares its softness to Ralph’s “dimpled cheeks,” using this as a way to transition into talking about how Mary should... (full context)
Act One, Scene Nine
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Ralph writes in his journal and at midnight takes out his wife’s picture to kiss it,... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...Handy Baker and Thomas Barrett; he was simply going along with the plan. He tells Ralph that he was given a chance after getting caught to “hang or be hanged.” “What... (full context)
Act One, Scene Eleven
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
During the first rehearsal of The Recruiting Officer, Ralph gathers the convicts he’s casted, including Sideway, Wisehammer, Mary, Liz, Dabby, Duckling, and Ketch. As... (full context)
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Ralph begins the rehearsal with a scene that includes Sideway, who overacts his part by accompanying... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Deciding to rehearse a scene with the female convicts, Ralph calls Liz and Mary to the front of the group and asks them to read... (full context)
Act Two, Scene One
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...Duckling appear and tell the chained convicts that they’ve come to continue the rehearsal. “The Lieutenant has gone to talk to the Governor,” Duckling says. “Harry said we could come see... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Two
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Ralph goes to Governor Phillip and tells him he wants to stop the play because his... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Governor Phillip tells Ralph that he wanted Liz to do the play because he wanted to make an “example”... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Governance and Justice Theme Icon
Phillip talks to Ralph about how he was called out of retirement to become Governor of the penal colony.... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Five
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Governance and Justice Theme Icon
...be unchained, since Liz is going to be tried the following day. Despite this hindrance, Ralph tries to begin the rehearsal as Ross and Campbell look on and mock the entire... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Seven
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
After the Aboriginal Australian man leaves, Mary and Ralph rehearse in front of Dabby, Wisehammer, and Arscott. After a moment, they pause to discuss... (full context)
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Wisehammer tells Ralph that he has written a new prologue for the play, since the current one “won’t... (full context)
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
When the rehearsal resumes, Wisehammer approaches and kisses Mary. Seeing this, Ralph “angrily” interrupts, saying the script doesn’t indicate that they should kiss. He forbids it, saying... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...to hang Liz the following day. “One has to transcend personal feelings in the theatre,” Ralph insists, but she runs away. Wisehammer follows her, at which point Ralph looks at Ketch... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Nine
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...rehearsing a love scene between her character and the play’s primary love interest. Before long, Ralph approaches and starts doing the scene with her. When the two characters kiss, Mary and... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Ten
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Governance and Justice Theme Icon
In a meeting about Liz Morden, Judge Collins tells Ralph, Major Ross, Captain Campbell, and Governor Phillip that the convict declined to speak on her... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Governance and Justice Theme Icon
Ralph says that Liz did tell Harry Brewer she was innocent, but Harry is dead and... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Governance and Justice Theme Icon
...food with the escaped prisoner Kable?” he asks, but she doesn’t respond. To encourage her, Ralph tells her that nobody will be angry if she speaks the truth, but Phillip contradicts... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Eleven
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...run away in the commotion following the play’s final scene. “You can’t,” Mary says. “The Lieutenant will be blamed, I won’t let you.” However, Dabby tells her that if she mentions... (full context)
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Ralph comes backstage and gives last-minute directorial advice to the actors before realizing that Caesar is... (full context)
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Caesar tells Ralph that he can’t act because his ancestors will be “angry” with him for being “laughed... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Governance and Justice Theme Icon
Wisehammer reminds Ralph of his prologue. Reading it aloud backstage, he pronounces lines such as: “True patriots all;... (full context)