Literature Essay

4957 WordsMay 26, 201320 Pages
MAJOR BARBARA by George Bernard Shaw THE AUTHOR George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was born into a lower-middle class Protestant family in Dublin, Ireland. His father was an alcoholic failed merchant, while his mother was a professional singer. When Shaw was sixteen, his mother ran off with her voice teacher, leaving him at home to complete school, which he despised. In 1876, he joined his mother in London and took up a career in journalism and writing, beginning with a string of five unsuccessful novels. Meanwhile, he became interested in political causes, especially socialism. This led him to become one of the founders of the Fabian Society, which had as its stated goal to transform Britain into a socialist society by means of education and legislation, while scorning the revolutionary violence of some of the Continental socialists. His first success as a writer came through his works of art, music, and dramatic criticism. It was not until 1891 that he wrote his first play, but once he started, he rarely stopped until his death at the age of 94, eventually producing a total of sixty plays. During his first twelve years as a playwright, he wrote a number of plays that are now highly esteemed (Arms and the Man, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Candida), but found that London theaters were unwilling to stage them. But in 1904, the Court Theater in Chelsea came under new management, and Shaw’s plays found a home among people interested in experimental drama. Here, he was able to direct his own works, and quickly became wealthy as a result of their success, culminating with the production of Pygmalion in a major London theater in 1914. The arrival of World War I almost proved Shaw’s undoing, as he spoke out strongly against the war, which he saw as the last gasp of imperialism, squandering the lives of the young under the guise of patriotic impulses. He became a social

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