The Irish people in general most often have a bleak life in the present and in their future. This theme can be found in virtually all Irish drama, including the play "Spreading the News,"" by Lady Gregory. There are two characters in which this theme shows through especially; Bartley Fallon and Jack Smith.
Bartley Fallon carries on a pessimistic attitude throughout the play. He deals with the bleakness of his present and future life by complaining. When Mrs. Tarpey first greets him, she says that he will find "no cause for complaining today,"" as if he complains frequently. He responds with: "It was not a good fair, Mrs. Tarpey. It was a scattered sort of a fair. If we didn't expect more, we got less. That's the way with me always; whatever I have to sell goes down and whatever I have to buy goes up. If there's ever any misfortune coming to this world, it's on myself it pitches, like a flock of crows on seed potatoes."" This illustrates to the audience his pessimistic attitude right from the beginning, and it is echoed throughout the play whenever he comes on stage. His subsequent line is equally cynical; "You will not get it into tramps today. The rain will be down on it by evening, and on myself too. It's seldom I ever started on a journey but the rain would come down on me before I'd find any place of shelter."".
Red Jack Smith replies to this discouraging perspective with: "If it didn't itself, Bartley, it is my belief you would carry a leaky pail on your head in place of a hat, the way you'd not be without some cause of complaining."" This line, combined with his habit of singing to himself, gives Jack Smith a cheerful and jocular characterization. However, when Jack hears that his wife is supposedly leaving him for another man, he shows off his stereotypical fiery redhead temper and threatens to "break the head of any man that says that."" This is how Jack Smith deals with bleakness "he resorts to violence and threatens to break heads, which he exclaims three times on the same page of the play.