Harding is portrayed as an unconscious tool of other men, other forces, almost hounded by inevitable fate, preordained by destiny as if in some ancient Greek play where the gods command the last word in the action. From a dramatic point of view, perhaps it could be said that Harding is not even the protagonist. That part goes to Daugherty, who also has to overcome the paralysis he encounters in Florence Kling Harding (Roslyn Cohn), the senator’s superstitious, shrewish wife (five years older than Harding), whose fervent belief in “the stars” and in their infallible interpreter, a certain clairvoyant Madame Marcia, presents a powerful obstruction to the progress of the plan.
Mrs. Harding, smart, sarcastic and sassy, has the best lines in the play. “You and your friends,” she snarls to Daugherty, “will dictate to my husband. And why not? He never had any ideas of his own to begin with…. I can see nothing but tragedy, turmoil and heartache.” She and Warren are all either of them has (how much she knows or cares about Nan is a question): “Desolation is my home town—population 2.”