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George Bernard Shaw

Shaw's legacy consists of both his literary production and his contributions to social criticism. At the level of literature, Shaw was a winner of both the Nobel Prize and the Academy Award—the only man about whom this can be said. At the level of politics, Shaw was a vehement critic of the exploitation and class oppression that characterized his own democratic society. This subject, naturally, also figures as an important theme in his literary works. 

Introduction and Background

George Bernard Shaw was a renowned Irish playwright and one of the founders of the London School of Economics. He wrote critiques of music and literature, in addition to incredibly articulate journalistic pieces, but his true talent was for drama. Shaw wrote over sixty plays during his career, in addition to essays, novels, and short stories. All of his writing paid particular attention to social problems with just a touch of comedy to ensure that the audience would pay attention and would find his work more relatable. He often used his work to comment on such issues as education, religion, marriage, government, healthcare, and the class system. 

Works

George Bernard Shaw was the author of five novels: An Unsocial Socialist, Cashel Byron’s Profession, Immaturity, Love among the Artists, and The Irrational Knot. He also wrote two famous short stories, titled The Black Girl in Search of God and The Miraculous Revenge. Shaw also wrote many essays, including A Manifesto, Vote! Vote!! Vote!!!, and The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism. He is the writer of numerous plays, including Pygmalion, Major Barbara, and Man and Superman.

Writing Style

As previously stated, George Bernard Shaw always used his work to make staunch social commentary. He was a Fabian socialist and sought to draw awareness to important social problems. His work is often comedic and clever, which he was careful to do as a way to sneak his message into an entertaining and enthralling expression. He continuously engages his audience intellectually and provides stimulating dialogue and plot lines. They are also heavy with monologues and the characters often engage with each other in intellectual debates. He seeks, not just to entertain, but to educate while doing so.

Additional Information

George Bernard Shaw’s five most prolific and well-known plays include Pygmalion, Heartbreak House, Major Barbara, Saint Joan, and Man and Superman. Pygmalion is about a comical class between classes; a pretentious upper-class man attempts to ‘civilize’ a cockney girl into a lady of refinement. It better-known by the name of its musical adaptation, My Fair Lady, Heartbreak House, influenced by Anton Chekhov and demonstrating how he felt that society lacked purpose, which he demonstrated by his characters’ static and depressing situations that are only improved by chaos and calamity. Major Barbara contains much more dialogue than the others and is a discussion of a conflict between real life and the imagination. In the story, Barbara works at the Salvation Army and struggles to assist the less fortunate and rally them against major manufacturers like her own wealthy father. Saint Joan tells the story of Joan of Arc, who he portrays and intuitive, lively, and in direct contact with God. Shaw used strong, empowered female leads often. Finally, Man and Superman is equally as long as it is witty. The characters are remarkably brilliant but undeniably flawed and they possess challenging, compelling, and complex ideas. On the surface, the story is about a man who wants to remain a bachelor and the woman who wants to marry him. Delve deeper, though, and the story is about Shaw’s vivacious philosophy about life, society, and human nature. It is said that a conversation that takes place during Act III is one of the most intellectually stimulating conservations to ever take place over the course of theatrical history. 

Conclusion

George Bernard Shaw is and will forever remain an easily recognizable and undeniably prolific writer in contemporary literature. He tailored his style in a way that would let him present and spread his message about social problems that concerned him while keeping the audience interested and entertained. His work was uses as an educational tool to raise awareness about pressing concerns in society and he serves as an example for writers and socialists alike.

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