Arsenic and Old Lace Summary & Study Guide

Joseph Kesselring
This Study Guide consists of approximately 18 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Arsenic and Old Lace.
This section contains 1,845 words
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Act 1

Arsenic and Old Lace takes place entirely in the Brewster home in Brooklyn, New York, in 1941. As the play opens, Abby Brewster, a sweet, elderly woman is pouring tea for her nephew Teddy and Dr. Harper, a local minister. All note how peaceful the house is, far removed from the war in Europe. They discuss their nephew Mortimer, a theater critic, and his relationship with the minister's daughter Elaine.

Two neighborhood policemen, Brophy and Klein, arrive to pick up toys for the local Christmas fund. Teddy asks them what news they have brought him. After saluting him, Brophy responds, "Colonel, we have nothing to report." We later learn that Teddy thinks that he is Teddy Roosevelt, a delusion that family and friends accept. As Teddy draws an imaginary sword, yells "charge" and bounds up the stairs, the others pay no attention. The men discuss how charitable...

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This section contains 1,845 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Arsenic and Old Lace Study Guide
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Drama for Students
Arsenic and Old Lace from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.