The Winslow Boy

by

Terence Rattigan

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Petition of Right/“Let Right Be Done” Term Analysis

This is the legal mechanism that Sir Robert Morton seeks in order to grant Ronnie Winslow a proper trial with a public jury. Essentially, it is a constitutional document that sets out an individual’s right under circumstances to bring a court case against the Crown (which in 20th century Britain is one and the same as the state/government). Sir Robert is especially attracted to this legal quirk because when the petition is granted it is traditional for the Crown’s representative to say, “let Right be done,” a phrase which, to Sir Robert, seems to embody the difference between justice as simply enforcing the law and “right” as a more universal morality. Both Arthur and Sir Robert agree that the phrase has a strong appeal. Catherine gestures towards it when she insists that the case must go on, despite the blackmailing letter issued by John’s colonel father saying that he will not endorse their marriage unless they drop the charges.

Petition of Right/“Let Right Be Done” Quotes in The Winslow Boy

The The Winslow Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Petition of Right/“Let Right Be Done” or refer to Petition of Right/“Let Right Be Done”. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Principles and Sacrifice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Nick Hern Books edition of The Winslow Boy published in 2000.
Act 3 Quotes

SIR ROBERT: What are my instructions, Miss Winslow?

CATHERINE: (In a flat voice.) Do you need my instructions, Sir Robert? Aren’t they already on the Petition? Doesn’t it say: Let Right be done?

Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:
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Petition of Right/“Let Right Be Done” Term Timeline in The Winslow Boy

The timeline below shows where the term Petition of Right/“Let Right Be Done” appears in The Winslow Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2 
Principles and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Sir Robert explains that he thinks they need to apply for a “ Petition of Right .” This gives an individual express permission to sue part of the Crown, in this... (full context)
Act 3
Principles and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Media and Spectacle Theme Icon
...as moved as any honourable Member opposite by [Sir Robert’s] use of the words ‘ Let Right be done ’ … nevertheless, the matter is not nearly as simple as he appears to imagine.”... (full context)
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John says surely the case has gone far enough—it’s had two inquiries, the Petition of Right case, and an appeal. Now it’s even getting the parliament into a “frenzy.”  John points... (full context)
Principles and Sacrifice Theme Icon
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...of the members against the First Lord. Accordingly, the First Lord has just granted the Petition of Right , meaning the Winslows can finally take the course to court. (full context)
Principles and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...she says to Sir Robert that he doesn’t even need her instructions—they’re already on the Petition of Right : “Let Right be done.” Visibly angry, John storms out. Sir Robert says, ”well, then—we... (full context)