2 Men, 1 Woman

Bernice represents “Pride” in Wilder’s projected cycle on The Seven Deadly Sins.

Set in Chicago in 1911. Walbeck, a thoroughly hated man who cheated hundreds of people out of their money, suddenly returns home from Joliet prison when his sentence is reduced. He is greeted by two people: his attorney, who informs him that Walbeck’s wife has fled to California, taking his daughter with her, and a new maid, Bernice, the self-proclaimed “best cook in Chicago” recently hired to keep the home going. Bernice, it turns out, served time for murder, and the advice she gives Walbeck on how to deal with his future allows Wilder to explore the nature of pride. Decisions have to be made quickly when Walbeck learns that his daughter is still in Chicago and coming by to see him at any moment.

A Note on Publication:
Bernice was first published in 1997 by TCG in The Collected Short Plays of Thornton Wilder, edited by Donald Gallup and Tappan Wilder. It is also included in Collected Plays & Writings on Theater edited by J. D. McClatchy, published by The Library of America in 2007.