In George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara, in what sense did Bodger and Undershaft save the people?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of  the many situational ironies of Major Barbara is that Barbara is very much her father’s daughter in character and energy. In her work in the Salvation Army, she is concerned with saving souls, but also with providing the poor with food, because when people are starving, they have to devote all their energies to satisfying material wants rather than to their souls. She is also very much of an idealist and concerned that drunkenness compounds the problems of poverty.

When she sees her father`s model town she understands that as a benevolent capitalist, despite his surface cynicism, he is helping people more than the Salvation Army because rather than giving them handouts, which make them dependent, he gives them honest work and decent lives. In Shaw`s view, the ideal is a combination of the economic salvation Undershaft and Bodger offer (for Shaw they embody the male principle) and the vitality, love, and inspiration Barbara offers (the female principle).

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Major Barbara

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