The Devil and Daniel Webster

The Devil and

Daniel Webster

The play "The Devil and Daniel Webster"
was written by Stephen Vincent Benét in 1938. Stephen Vincent Benét
was born in 1898 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. His education came from Yale

University and the Sorbonne in Paris, France. "The Devil and Daniel Webster"
has a wide array of characters, each with a distinguished personality,
yet an overall temperment that would be fitting of a New England community.

The main character is Jabez Stone, a wealthy New England statesman whose
possition was the state senator of New Hampshire. He had started out as
a farmer though, but moved up in life and, when he was about thirty years
of age, married the fair woman, Mary Stone- who was in her early twenties.

The fiddler, though not incredibly important, was a key character in that
he provided foreshadowing.

When he said, "But the very devil's got
into that fiddle of mine.", he was forshadowing the coming of the devil
to disturb the merriments. A very key character in this play is the devil
himself, which took the name of Scratch (for that was what he was called
in New England communities). He had come to steal the soul of Jabez Stone,
claiming that he had a right to Jabez because of a legal contract.

Last- but most certainly not least in this
story- is the great Governor of New Hampshire, loved by all, Daniel Webster.

Daniel Webster was not only the governor, but an excelent orator. He had
a way of using words to pursued the opinion of others, sometimes by conveying
feelings or emotion. The play starts out in the ornate home of Jabez and

Mary Stone, right after their wedding has taken place. The Fiddler, who
sat upon a Cider Barrel, played a tune on the Fiddle, and all of the guests
danced to it. Basically, it was a wedding reception. At first, there was
nothing more than small talk going on, but by using even this smalltalk,

Benét very accurately described the lifestyles of the New England
residents.

As the play progressed, political favor
of the day was expressed as Daniel Webster arived, associating himself
with Jabez Stone. One man cried out, "Vote the Whig ticket!" and another,

"Hurray for Daniel Webster!" Of course, political disfavor was also shown,
as Scratch (the devil) portreyed himself as a lawyer from Boston, implying
that the political party from Boston was disfavored. Later on, after some
forshadowing by both Jabez and Mary, it is learned that Jabez had sold
his soul to the devil. He had done this because of the dessolite land he
had to farm, it was entirely baren, and had an abundance of large stones
there. In return, the devil brought him prosperity- for a time. Jabez had
become state senator, married a wonderful woman, and had friends in high
places. But it did not last forever.

A small climax- more like a turning point-
occurred when Scratch had driven all the guests away from fear. He then
left for a short time, preparing to come back at a later time to reclaim
his "prize". Daniel Webster, however, felt confidant that he could defeat

Scratch in a fair trial and/or debate. As it turned out, both happened.

When Scratch came back, they had a trial-
a trial with a biased jury of the undead. A great oratory debate soon followed
between Scratch and Daniel Webster. It was a fierce debate, though it did
remain civil. Webster used his cunning intellect against Scratch, but in
every case, either Scratch would refute his claim, or the judge at this
trial, Judge Hawthorne of the Salem Witch Trials, would over-rule Daniel

Webster- no matter how logical he had been. For instance, when Daniel Webster
claimed that "Mr. Stone is an American citizen, and American citizen may
be forced into the service of a foreign prince.", the devil replied that
he was no foreigner with "...when the first wrong was done to the first

Indian, I was there. When the first slaver put out for the Congo, I stood
on her deck...". Such a trial was impossible to win, until Daniel Webster
used his words to bring back memories of the undead jury- of when they
had been alive and human. He appealed to them, one by one, and slowly changed
the sway of the biased jury of the undead. In the end, the verdict was"not guilty", and old Scratch was finally flung out the door. Overall,

I thoroughly enjoyed this play by Stephen Vincent Benét, and I would
recommend reading it.