THE STORY: DUBLIN CAROL centers on John Plunkett, an undertaker in his late fifties. The play is divided into three scenes, all of which take place in John’s office in Dublin on Christmas Eve. In the morning we see John interacting with Mark, a twenty-year-old boy who is helping John while the boss, Noel, is in hospital having tests. John regales Mark with stories from his past, and of how he met Noel, who is, incidentally, Mark’s uncle. Noel saved John from a life of alcoholism and gave him a job here. John seems anxious for Mark to keep him company this morning, and he only allows him to leave when the whiskey he is knocking back runs out. The next scene sees the arrival of Mary, John’s estranged daughter, who’s in her thirties. She implores John to come and see Helen, his wife and her mother. Helen is sick in hospital and has asked to see John. John abandoned his family twenty years ago, and his feelings of guilt and anguish make him turn angrily on Mary. But he finally agrees to go. Mary says she will call back to collect him at five o’clock. In the last scene, Mark returns for his wages to find John collapsed in a drunken stupor. Mark helps John to recover a little, and the two men get into a fight — Mark has tried and failed to break up with his girlfriend during the afternoon and feels terrible, but John dismisses Mark’s feelings. Mark goes to storm out, but John stops him, apologizes and explains his own problem: He is so afraid to see his family again and face his shameful past. Mark helps John galvanize himself to go. They wish each other happy Christmas, and Mark leaves. John washes himself and puts on his good jacket and tie. He sits waiting for Mary to return as the bells chime out five o’clock. And that’s where the play ends.
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