Major Barbara

Analysis

Sidney P Albert, a noted Shaw scholar, analysed various aspects of the play in several articles. These include first, Shaw's own account of the writing of the play;[3] second, the chosen time of the play's setting, January 1906,[4] and third, references to the Lord's Prayer[5]

Several sholars have compared this work to other works, including one of Shaw's own, and others from different periods. Fiona Macintosh has examined Shaw's use of classical literary sources, such as The Bacchae, in Major Barbara.[6] In his discussion of the play, Robert J Jordan has analysed the relationship between Major Barbara and another Shaw play, Man and Superman.[7] Joseph Frank has examined parallels between the play and the Divine Comedy of Dante.[8] J.L. Wiesenthal has discussed parallels with the play and Shaw's personal interpretations of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.[9]

Many studies have looked at main character Undershaft's beliefs and morals from several points of view, including their relation to Shaw's personal beliefs; their presentation throughout the play, and their changes over the course of he play; the counterpoints to them by Adolphus Cusins, and their relation to the social realities of the day. First, Charles Berst has studied the convictions of Andrew Undershaft in the play, and compared them with Shaw's own philosophical ideas.[10] Robert Everding has discussed the gradual presentation of the ideas and character of Andrew Undershaft as the play progresses.[11] The pseudonymous commentator 'Ozy' has compared Andrew Undershaft's apparent undermining of Shaw's own personal, general convictions about the 'Life Force', and Shaw's attempt to have Adolphus Cusins restore some philosophical balance.[12] Norma Nutter has briefly discussed conflicts between the character's personal convictions compared to the social realities that they eventually face, via the concept of 'false consciousness'.[13]

Relatedly, several others have looked at the play in relation to the circumstances of the period in which it was written. Bernard Dukore has examined the historical context of the depiction of money in the play, relating the then-contemporary situation with inflation to more recent historical circumstances.[14] Nicholas Williams has discussed possibilities for reinterpretation of the play in a more contemporary context, away from the immediate historical context of its original period.[15]


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