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George Bernard Shaw: Life and Theatre

George Bernard Shaw: Life and Theatre

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George Bernard Shaw: Life and Theatre

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  1. George Bernard Shaw: Life and Theatre

  2. George Bernard Shaw (he never used the “George”) was born in Dublin, Ireland 1865 to a lower-middle class family. • Shaw grew up in a dysfunctional family. His father was an alcoholic, and his mother was a singer who abandoned the family to pursue her career. Shaw’s plays are often filled with problematic parent-child relationships.

  3. In 1876, Shaw left Dublin and moved to London to try his hand at a career in journalism and writing. He published a volume of five novels before any of them were published. • He was also involved in progressive politics. He helped to found the Fabian Society, a socialist political group intent on creating a socialist state in Britain.

  4. In 1898, Shaw became involved in the theatre and began writing plays though his plays were rarely produced. In the same year, he fell ill and resigned as a theater critic and married Charlotte-Payne Townsend. • Eventually, Shaw’s plays were produced, and he became quite wealthy. He remained active in the Fabian Society and participated on committees dedicated to ending censorship in the theatre.

  5. During WWI, Shaw vehemently expressed his disapproval of the war. His public opinions tarnished his image, and there was even talk of his being tried for treason. He eventually rebuilt his reputation, began writing again, and became something of a celebrity. • Following his death in 1950, his plays continued to be studied and produced worldwide.

  6. Pygmalion: Themes/Issues • Class system • Social prejudice • Judging by appearance • Morality/behavior • Money/class • Rich/poor • Speech/dialect

  7. Pygmalion: Social/Historical Context • 1914- class system-birth, environment, wealth, dress, speech, etc. • 70% of country’s wealth held by 1% of population. • Entertainment through theatre and newspapers. • Socialism- the belief that wealth and property should be evenly distributed by and amongst the community.

  8. Pygmalion: Myth and Influence • Based on ancient Greek myth about Pygmalion. A sculptor whom falls in love with his creation. • Shaw humanizes this romantic view giving us characters mired down in the concerns of a very socially minded London, and he asks us if it is appropriate to judge others based upon their places in society. Shaw critiques the typical romance story found in this ancient myth. The reader examines whether or not we see the “Cinderella” transformation, and if we receive the romance we expect.