Discuss Shaw's Man and Superman as the new "drama of ideas."
Literary scholar Martin Puchner, in his book entitled The Drama of Ideas, has described Shaw's work in general, and Man and Superman in particular, as an example of this new drama, a drama of ideas, along with the work of Oscar Wilde, Luigi Pirandello, and others. Shaw's work, according to Puchner, was "driven by his own idiosyncratic version of socialism," based on a "half-baked concoction of Darwinism, Fabian-style socialism, and a belief in the shaping power of ideas."
The "ideas" that Puchner refers to revolved around Shaw's belief that mankind was driven by a "life force" that drives us to reproduce in order to not only perpetuate the species, but to improve it. In a word, Shaw believed man's purpose was to create "supermen," improved in every way from our current intellectual and even physical state. The characters in the play, which Shaw deliberately aimed at an intellectual audience, are largely intended to express this idea. The relationship between John Tanner and Ann Whitefield, driven as it is largely by sexual attraction, is an example of the "life force" at work. So Man and Superman is intended to express an idea, if not exactly in the most accessible way, as a drama of ideas.