Places: R.U.R.

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1920 (English translation, 1923)

First produced: 1921

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Social satire

Time of work: The future

Places DiscussedIsland

Island. R.U.R.Unnamed island in an unspecified remote location that is the initial launching ground for the robot revolt. By the end of the play, the island becomes a kind of Eden, where the last human man witnesses the birth of love between a young robot couple that holds the promise of a new kind of humanity, albeit a robot one.

Rossman’s Universal Robots office

Rossman’s Universal Robots office. Central office of R.U.R., in which Harry Domin, the general manager, meets Helena Glory, who has come to tour the factory. Harry eventually proposes marriage in a manner that suggests a business transaction. It is fitting that such a proposal takes place in his office.

Helena’s drawing room

Helena’s drawing room. Ten years after Helena and Harry marry, their drawing room is neatly appointed, revealing the humanizing and feminine influence that Helena brings to the otherwise sterile environment of the robot factory.


Laboratory. Workplace where Alquist–the last human still alive–experiments on robots, hoping to rediscover the formula for their manufacture. He fails but confronts a young robot couple who exhibit signs of romantic love. They have already transcended Alquist’s ability to propagate their race and reveal a humanity that all human beings in the play–except Helena–ironically lack.

BibliographyČapek, Karel. Toward the Radical Center: A Karel Capek Reader. Edited and introduced by Peter Kussi. Translated by Norma Comrada, et al. Highland Park, N.J.: Catbird Press, 1990. Includes a brief but informative biography. Evaluates existing translations of Čapek’s works and provides many new translations, including R.U.R. Discusses Čapek’s philosophy, politics, and use of language.Harkins, William Edward. Karel Capek. New York: Columbia University Press, 1962. Best introduction to R.U.R. Only book-length critical study of Čapek’s work written in English, discussing philosophy, artistic structure, theme, character, literary influences, and innovations in form.King, Sharon D. “A Better Eve: Women and Robots in Capek’s R.U.R. and Pavlovsky’s El Robot.” In Women in Theatre, edited by James Redmond. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Interesting, detailed analysis of the character of Helena, including discussion of male-female roles and attitudes about childbirth and sterility.Matuska, Alexander. Karel Capek: An Essay. Translated by Cathryn Alan. London: Allen & Unwin, 1964. Clear introduction to life and philosophy for new readers. Discusses R.U.R. as an analysis of human nature and of labor.Wellek, Rene. Essays on Czech Literature. The Hague: Mouton, 1963. Divides Čapek’s writing into three periods, discussing changes in style and subject matter. Evaluates the play’s theatrical qualities, traces popularity, and analyzes the play’s emphasis on the dangers of mechanization.
Categories: Places