Character Sketch of Robert Baldwin

Robert Baldwin is the central character in the play The Hour of Truth by Percival Wilde.  He lives with his wife Martha, son John and daughter Evie.  He has been working as the secretary of John Gresham in a bank owned by him.  

For financial misappropriation, John Gresham is arrested and his trial is about to start.  The day before the trial begins, Gresham sends for Baldwin.  He offers a hundred thousand dollars to not testify against him.

Robert Baldwin is very honest and scrupulous.  He values his principles more than his friendship with Gresham.  He doesn’t have to think twice before rejecting the offer of money.  He is very particular about “going to his grave clean.”

The family members who wanted to send Gresham to jail in the beginning change their attitude when they come to know about the huge amount on offer.  They try to convince Robert Baldwin to accept it by a host of arguments. Despite the pressure, Baldwin holds firm.  

The integrity of Baldwin is rewarded when he was offered a job in a bigger bank.  Gresham himself tells Marshall that no amount of money will make him do something he thinks wrong.  Rather than making Baldwin testify against him, Gresham decides to confess.  

At one occasion Baldwin says, “When John Gresham offered me money, I was angry.  But when I rejected it, and he showed no surprise, then I was pleased.”  This shows how Baldwin values not only his principles, but also how others consider him.  His firm moral attitude stands in contrast with the other family members who change their stand because of the temptation of money.

He is very faithful to his employer.  When he comes to knows about the impending wreck he never mentions it even to his own wife.  He never complains about the low payment he gets.  He is leading a happy life with whatever he has.  His lament “Shams! Liars! Hypocrites! Thieves!... We have seen our souls naked, and they stink to Almighty Heaven!” shows how principled and religious his attitude is.

The playwright probably wants to tell us that steadfast adherence to principles is rewarded in this world itself and it is worth going through the pain it entails.   


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