Major Barbara: Social Conditions Of 19th Century

2411 words - 10 pages

Adhari AdhariAssoc. Prof. Dr. Berna Ayça ÜLKER ERKANING 3219 Modern British Drama20 October 2014Major Barbara: Conditions of British Society in 19th CenturyMajor Barbara is one the most influential plays in the world. It was written by an Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw and was first performed in 1905. In its first performance Major Barbara has achieved many positive critical acclaims, even until today it's still considered as a legend. What makes Shaw's plays very different is the fact that he always has some crucial messages within the play that touches everybody's logic and heart. It usually criticizes the conditions of British society in particular and world in general. ...view middle of the document...

One of the themes that stand-out very clear in this play is about morality. Everybody claims that they were doing the right thing. There are two strongholds that against each other, Barbara and the father, they were arguing about the decision they chose in live. Barbara and her mother side think that their father was doing a completely untrue thing. What makes them think of that is his occupation as a gunpowder merchant. They think that was not correct to support the world in making war. Gunpowder, on the other hand, is considered very modern in terms of warfare forces. Historically, 19th century was the era of industrialization and also the era of militarization. This indicates that through this play Shaw indirectly has shown us or given us, as modern audiences, the historical fact about warfare in that era, about technological improvements that was made during that era.About morality that they were arguing throughout the play, which at the end we realized that the job does not completely represent the person himself, is just the matter of having different perspectives. Undershaft might be a Gunpowder merchant but it doesn't necessarily mean he has committed a crime or supporting the war. He does that for financial sake. As we know that he is a capitalist believer, who considers money more important that anything else. Furthermore, at the end he donates to the organization of Salvation Army which shows that he still has sense of humanity, regardless what's the motive behind it."I am not one of those men who keep their morals and their business in watertight compartments. All the spare money my trade rivals spend on hospitals, cathedrals, and other receptacles for conscience money, I devote to experiments and researches in improved methods of destroying life and property. I have always done so; and I always shall. Therefore your Christmas card moralities of peace on earth and goodwill among men are of no use to me. Your Christianity, which enjoins you to resist not evil, and to turn the other cheek, would make me a bankrupt. My morality - my religion - must have a place for cannons and torpedoes in it." (Andrew Undershaft, Act I)Ironic is that one who we thought was the heroine turned out changing her faith. Conversely, one who did the bad thing, or at least that is what we used to think about him, turned out to be hero of the story. Besides, the original title of the play was Undershaft's profession. (Paller, 15)Go along with the argumentations that made by the both sides, one that really clear, it's all about ideological perspectives. At first we might be tricked by the title of this play, we thought that the heroine was Barbara. The thing is Shaw is very cleaver. He makes us reconsider our first impressions about what we saw. He teaches us not too quick in making conclusion. At first, Barbara seems very good. If we should take side, maybe all of us would choose to be in Barbara's side. But, at the end audiences have to be satisfied with the...

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