Discuss the significance of the title of "Man and Superman."

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In Shaw's play it is the character of Ann Whitefield who encourages and cajoles John Tanner—the would-be superman of the title—to become "that which he is," to paraphrase the subtitle of one of Nietzsche's books. She is the animating spirit of the action, the life-force which incites Tanner to develop into something more substantial than the unthinking anarchist, the impetuous, hot-headed would-be revolutionary.

In doing so, Ann takes on the role of a female Don Juan, cleverly seducing Tanner into an arrangement with which he feels rather uncomfortable, largely on account of his disdain for the niceties of bourgeois social convention. Ann's vigorous assertion of her individuality presents a model for Tanner to emulate. In Nietzschean terms this isn't so much a creative evolution of personality as a rediscovery of what's truly inside. The greatest spirits of every age have superman within them, both men and women.

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The title "Man and Superman," which is a play by British dramatist George Bernard Shaw, is a reference not to the comic book superhero but to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of the superman, or "Ubermensch." Nietzsche conceived of the "Ubermensch" as the ultimate human being, an ideal to which each individual person and society as a whole should aspire. In working towards this goal, Nietzsche posited that each generation of humans would get closer and closer to "perfection."

Shaw references Nietzsche in the title of his play to place his work in conversation with philosophers of the past. The play itself, especially the third act, centers on philosophical debate. Shaw's stance on Nietzsche's argument (that each generation of humans became closer and closer to "superman" through a process similar to Darwin's concept of natural selection) was that this process is driven through attraction to one another's "life force," which would drive the next generation further along this path of evolution.

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