The title of the play “The Apple Cart” is taken from a well-known English Phrase “to upset the apple cart.” A person is said “to upset the apple cart” when he spoils or frustrates some one else’s carefully arranged plan.
Upsetting apple carts had ever been one of Shaw’s main occupations. In this play he upsets the apple cart of democracy. Side by side, he upsets the apple of royalty also . He exposes the unreality of both democracy and royalty.
There are two references to this phrase in the play. Both of theme occur in Act II. The first reference occurs when the king threatens to abdicate. Nicobar tellr him at that time : you cannot upset the apple cart like this.
The second reference occurs in a remark made by king Magnus. When he is over and the ultimatum is torn into pieces. He addresses Nicobar and observes: So I have not upset the apple cart after all.
The apple cart in the play stands for the huge democratic machinery in England where the government is supposed to be carried on by the parliamentary majority. There is the constitutional King to give his sanction to the actions of the Legislature and the Cabinet. It is the prerogative of the king to veto any act or proposal which is not in the intrest of the nation. Prime minister Joe Proteus and his Cabinet make a plan to deprive the king of his power of veto. They to reduce the king to a mere rubber-stamp. So they present an ultimatum to the king. It lays down three conditions (a) the king should no more make any public speeches. (b) He should not refer to his royal veto in future.
King magnus is too clever for the cabinet . He has an ace of trump in his hand and knows how and when to play it. He upsets the apple cart of the cabinet by threatening to abdicate and by contesting election as a common man. He declares that he will form a part. As a leader of his party he will become the prime Minister and replace Proteus.
Proteus and his cabinet colleagues are taken aback at the king’s decision. Proteus feels that his prime ministership is in danger. He takes back the ultimatum from the king and tears it into pieces. He then declares,“There is not going to be any abdication. There is not going to be any general election. There is not going to be any ultimatum we go on as before.”
The Apple cart is an apt title. It suggests how the king frustrates the carefully arranged plan of the cabinet to reduce him to a cipher. He upsets their apple cart by his wit, wisdom, intelligence and presence of mind. The Ministers feel confused. Protues withdraws the ultimatum.
Character Sketch Of King Magnus
Magnus is the hero of the play The Apple Cart. Magnus is one of the very few living and perfect characters created by Shaw. He is very witty, clever, humrous and cool-headed. He is tallish, studious looking gentleman of about forty five. He has a very charming and attractive personality.
King Magnus possesses rare tact and political wisdom. He knows how to face a crisis. The biggest crisis comes when his Cabinet Ministers give him an ultimatum that he must not refer to his veto power. He must not make any public speeches. He must not instigate the public the Press against the Ministers. Magnus handles the situation very cleverly and upsets the apple cart of Cabinet. He proves more than a match for his Ministers.
Magnus is extremely clear-headed and sensible. He thinks that modern democracy has miserably failed and that the real power nowadays belongs neither to King nor to Parliament but to rich indusrialists. Similarly he knows that in workaday life a cabbage (Queen Jemima) is more useful than a rose (Orinthia). When the American Ambassador informs him that the United States has decided to merge into the English Empire, Magnus feels worried. He suspects that it is a plan to make England end up as a mere star on the flag of America. In this case he shows a deep...