Fabianism and Fabianist Morals in G B Shaw's Widowers' Houses, Arms and the Man and the Devil's Disciple

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GRIN Verlag, 2009 - 20 pages
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Seminar paper from the year 2007 in the subject English - Literature, Works, grade: 1,3, University of Heidelberg (Anglistisches Seminar), course: PS II Literaturwissenschaft - Shaws Fruhe Dramen, language: English, abstract: This essay shall aim at portraying Shaw's Fabian thought and morality in his early plays, i.e. Widowers' Houses, Arms and the Man, and The Devil's Disciple. Such a task automatically renders the essay no more than an attempt at finding traces, for there are no socialists in the plays mentioned. Instead, socialist thought is conveyed implicitly, i.e. by means of the plot, by method of showing, or by confronting a Victorian theatre audience with realities they would only too well like to ignore. Widower's Houses is a good case in point: it is highly unlikely any tenants living in the sort of substandard accommodation portrayed in the play could afford a night out in Covent Garden, and it is equally unlikely the theatre-going audience would ever bother to visit them in "their" rundown houses. Consequently, Shaw forced the reality upon the audience and explicitly tried to use drama as a means of propaganda (Grene: 1987: 15 and 3). However, here one could critically add that Shaw - like most Fabians - had as little contact with the working class as those he criticised for the same reasons (Ballay 1980: 237). I shall focus on Widowers' Houses, Arms and the Man, and The Devil's Disciple, for reasons I will explain in the conclusion. The essay follows a hypothesis, which is as written above: Shaw forced upon his audience realities they would like to ignore, and he wished to radicalise his audience (Gahan: 13). The second assumption this essay follows is that morality is as much part of Fabianism as politics are. In his economic and political writings, Shaw made a strong connection between economics and morality (Griffith: 29f.). His opposition to capitalism rooted very much in the fact that he rejected it morally. Hence, according to Fabian logic, the"

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About the author (2009)

Nicholas Williams is an urban ecologist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne.

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