Natural to the End
“Stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.” – Abraham Lincoln
Loyalty cannot be bought, sold, or traded. Loyalty must be achieved through the admiration of your peers. Loyalty is giving your word and sticking to it – not compromising your morals when the going gets tough or when you are presented a better deal somewhere else. A man who is admirable possesses the traits of loyalty. Crichton is admirable and remains loyal to the end. When the time is right, he parts. Is it natural to remain loyal?
We must first establish a definition of naturalness in the framework of the text. In The Admirable Crichton, whatever is natural is right. English social hierarchy is natural to the characters in the play. Crichton possesses respect for the system, for he immersed himself in it for a great deal of his life. However, his respect does not evolve out of fear or intimidation, rather, out of his understanding of the important role masters and servants naturally play in civilization. Crichton’s immersion into and understanding of the hierarchal system explains the significance of what comes naturally in the play; moreover, it lays the foundation for his loyalty. His position on hierarchy and social order is parallel to the stance Darwin, a British naturalist, established in the 19th century; stating social adaptations, herein to hierarchy, are natural for humans. In Act I, Lord Loam and Lady Mary speak to Crichton regarding the division into classes, and they discuss if these divisions are natural or artificial.
LORD LOAM: […] can’t you see, Crichton that our divisions into classes are artificial, that if we were to return to Nature, which is the aspiration of mylife, all would be equal?
CRICHTON: The divisions into classes, my lord, are not artificial. They are the natural outcome of a civilized (sic) society. (To Lady Mary) There must always be a master and servants in all civilized (sic) communities, my lady, for it is natural, and whatever is natural is right. (Barrie 13)
The characters in the play are familiar with the idea of social order; Crichton understands this circumstance, and he employs the appropriate conditions to reach the top later in the play. He recognizes others follow whoever reaches the top first. In order to reach the top first he relies on his leadership skills, which may not be natural to mankind, but are natural to Crichton.
Leaders are not born. In no doubt, there are some natural endowments that affect relative abilities, but they are not born, they are made. Crichton has studied and understands the English system of hierarchy. His reason for remaining with the family is stated in the following text:
CRICHTON: [To Lady Mary] I should have felt compelled to give notice, my lady, if the master had not had a seat in the Upper House. I cling to that. (12)
Aware of Lord Loam’s appointment in the House of Lords, Crichton’s prolonged stay with the family is due to the prestige he acquires by remaining at hand. For the duration of his ride with the family, he undeniably gains imperative leadership traits and principles.
Leadership is characterized as the art of influencing, directing, guiding, and controlling others in such a way as to obtain their willing obedience, confidence, respect and loyal cooperation in accomplishment of an objective. Crichton acquires the notions listed above, mainly through his study and respect for the system, and moves on to accomplish the objective of filling the natural role of the master. Crichton explains that on the question of leadership – it will settle itself out. It is a matter in which he has nothing to do.
His transition to the head occurs towards the end of Act II, and the issues of birth and guarantees are replaced by skill and ability. His move to the top takes shape rather suddenly on the island, and it does not take long for the others to naturally follow behind him. In a conversation with Treherne, after the brief exit by the family, Crichton explains that the pot he heated is full of Nature, and the others are hungry and will return, for that is what is natural.
His natural succession to the position of commander and the clashes over social philosophies are noticed through dialogue when Crichton speaks to Lady Mary. Notice here, Crichton speaks, and not Lady Mary speaks; contrary to their normal social implications.
LADY MARY: (determined to have it out with him) you are not implying anything so unnatural, I hope, as that if I and my sisters don’t work there will be no dinner for us?
CRICHTON: (brightly) if it is unnatural, my lady, that is the end of
LADY MARY: If? Now I understand. The perfect servant at home
Holds that we are all equal now. I see.
CRICHTON: (earnestly) my lady, I disbelieved in equality at home because it wasagainst nature, and for that same reason I as utterly disbelieve in it on an island. (28)
The pivotal shift in Lady Mary’s point of view of Crichton, a shift in the play as a whole, comes once she recognizes Crichton as being more than a servant, for she recognizes him as a human being. The pivotal transition transpires after she realizes he did everything he could to save their own and Lord Loam’s life.
LADY MARY: You did all a man could do. Indeed I thank you, Crichton. (With some admiration and more wonder) You are a man. (27)
The shift between the social orders juxtaposed in the play, natural and adaptive, is brought to light here. The proposal of individuals being able to adapt to their surroundings and being naturally fit for a specific role in life, flourishes throughout the remainder of the island endeavor.
We have concluded that whatever objective we end up with is right. From Crichton’s point of view, social adaptations to the surroundings are a necessity and natural. We end up in current positions through nature. Crichton is someone certain to succeed on the island; he is a natural for the job. Naturalness is whatever is right.
Now we must examine the course of actions that illustrates Crichton’s loyalty. Productive leaders remain even-tempered and are calm, confident and predictable during a crisis. The key is remaining predictable at all times. His loyalty is observed easily because Crichton is predictable. Others are able to foretell his actions since Crichton is always honest first.
From the beginning Crichton is seen as the loyal servant. In a discussion with Ernest, over the topic of monthly tea-cup gatherings in the servants’ hall with the servants amid the noble, his loyalty is first noted.
ERNEST: […] you don’t approve of his lordship’s compelling his servants to be his equals – once a month?
CRICHTON: It is not for me to, sir, to disapprove of his lordship’s Radical views. (5)
Regardless of Crichton’s contempt for Ernest, he restrains from unfolding the idea as foolish and irrational; acquiescently he states the truth, and his loyalty endures. Crichton’s loyalty shins through during the crisis on the island. His loyalty gains legitimacy through his courageous and predictable actions.
Crichton conquers omnipotence on the island, and his legitimacy climaxes in Act III by his decision to summon a boat; Lord Loam was not aware of the option and even Lady Mary urges him to rethink the decision.
LORD LOAM: A ship – always a ship.
LADY MARY: Father, this is no dream.
LORD LOAM: (clutching him) you are not deceiving me?
CRICHTON: (cheerily) have no fear. I shall bring them back.
LADY MARY: Stop! (She faces him) Don’t you see what it means?
CRICHTON: (firmly) it means that our life on the island has come to a natural end.
LADY MARY: Gov., let the ship go.
CRICHTON: Bill Crichton has got to play the game. (55/56)
Crichton “plays the game” – the game of life; remaining loyal to himself and to the world by doing what is right, what is honest, and what is natural. Loyalty is composed of a special blend of personal traits specific to each individual. Some traits of loyalty include honor, courage, admiration, and commitment. Crichton holds these traits on the conditions that they are important to him, natural to him, and who he is.
Upon returning from the Island, Crichton’s loyalty is put to the test when the memoirs relative to the astonishing island survival are written, yet despite his efforts Crichton receives zero recognition in the memoirs and continues to be a nonentity. In spite of everything, in the end, Crichton’s loyalty remains at hand. While loyalty is a personal trait, some people continue to believe that loyalty can be bought. In Act IV, Catherine explains to Lord Loam how Crichton’s loyalty may well prove compromising for the family.
CATHERINE: (reveling the worst) But suppose Lady Brocklehurst were to get to him and pump him. She is the most terrifying, suspicious old creature in England; and Crichton simply can’t tell a lie. (60)
Quite the opposite do Crichton’s loyalties prove to be. His loyalty continues to serve the family even in the course of interrogations established by Lady Brocklehurst. He could have confessed what occurred on the island and exposed the “real” story for a few minutes or pages of fame and recognition, but remaining loyal to Lord, remaining loyal to his ideals, presents the ultimate fame and recognition to him.
When considering the family’s narcissistic point of view, alas, Crichton is merely remaining loyal to himself. He would not have sold-out the family name in order to prosper from a better deal somewhere else; perhaps someone would fancy a servant so resourceful. People are generally more willing to respect a person who remains loyal to an institution even if they disagree with it, or, at the least, keep their discrepancies private; Crichton understands this and parts gracefully when the time is right.
For a person who is admirable, Crichton is, it is natural for them to remain loyal. Remaining loyal is natural to Crichton. Self-pride and allegiance to ones ideals and values is what loyalty means to him in the play. He realizes the significance of individuals appreciating their adaptive and natural roles in society and continues to serve this theory to the end, until the time is right, then he parts. Loyal to the end.