Stanley Houghton's The Dear Departed is a social play on the condition of the elderly people who are being abandoned and neglected by their own children. The play is optimistic that even elderly people may chose to live merrily, despite their old age. They can even opt to marry at old age to lead a happy life .
In the beginning of the play Mrs.Slater goes to offer something to grandfather Abel Merryweather and finds him quite cold, not responding at all. He is motionless. So, Mrs.Slater declares that the grandfather is no more.
Accordingly, her sister and her husband, the Jordans are informed about the sudden demise of the grandfather. Mrs.Slater and her husband are busy making arrangement for the mourning. They are expecting the Jordans to join them. They start using the various materials used by the grandfather. Victoria, daughter of Mrs.Slater does not like all these but reluctantly she is helping her parents in these matters. Victoria is asked to keep a watch on the main door to inform her mother about the arrival of the Jordans. Mrs.Slater is not willing to share everything of her father's belongings with Mrs.Jordan. When all these arrangements are being done, the Jordans arrive to join them.
The family members start detailed conversation on the deeds of the grandfather, planning the details of the obituary announcement in the papers and the insurance premium payment. They start discussion over the distribution of grandfather's belongings among them.
Surprisingly, at this point of time, the play witnesses a turn of events. Victoria who has been sent to the grandfather's room, returns very scared. She tells everyone that grandfather is alive. To everybody's surprise, grandfather is seen coming downstairs. He is surprised to find the Jordans. No one dares to tell him that he has been declared 'dead'. While taking tea, the truth comes out and the grandfather gets to know how his daughters have been in a hurry to divide his possessions among them.
On knowing the harsh reality, the grandfather decides not to live with any of his daughters. He even expresses his final intention to change his Will. He declares that he is going to give everything to Mrs. Shorrocks whom he will marry. He feels that by marrying Mrs. Shorrocks he will have someone to look after him wholeheartedly without considering him to be a burden.
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