George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Was a Irish
born dramatist, critic, and essayist he is regarded as one of the
most important literary figures of the 1900's. He was awarded the
Nobel Prize for literature in 1925.
Shaw was influenced by the revolutionary
social dramas of the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, he viewed
the theatre as a platform for supporting social reform. His career
covered nearly 60 years, in that time he wrote over 50 plays. Most
of them were comedies in which a debate on ethics is as important
as such traditional dramatic values as characterization and appealing
to the emotions of an audience.
Shaw was a great defender of women's rights,
he became a vegetarian, He used his plays to defend his opinions
often publishing an essay as preface to his plays. The essay's like
his play's demonstrate his brilliance and wit.
was born in Dublin on July 26, 1856. He moved to London in 1876,
and became a successful music critic. In 1884, he was one of the
founding members of the Fabian Society, the aims of which were to
promote political and economic change through reform. Shaw wrote
The Quintessence of Ibsenism which was a lecture on Ibsen it was
published in 1891. Shaw's early plays were regarded as radical and
did not gain immediate popularity in London. In his first play Widower's
Houses published in 1892, he attacked slum landlords. In Mrs. Warren's
Profession, which is directed at the causes of prostitution, it
was written in 1893. It was produced in 1902 and was immediately
banned. Arms and the Man 1894, did not have a successful opening
it was an antiwar comedy.
After 1904 when Harley Granville-Barker
a friend of Shaw's produced eleven of Shaw's plays in the Royal
Court Theatre public hostility to Shaw began to disappear These
included Caesar and Cleopatra (1898), Candida (1895), The Devil's
Disciple (1897), and Man and Superman (1903). This last play contains
the celebrated scene Don Juan in Hell, which is often performed
as a separate work.
Force. In Shaw's play Back to Methuselah 1918-1920,
which traces the history of humanity. This play is considered his
most ambitious, in it and also Man and Superman he promotes the
concept of life force, he perceived life force as a biological
energy which dominates people, when this energy is harnessed it
can lead to a higher more creative existence.