How would you classify the genre of the play "Major Barbara?  

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Walter Fischer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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George Bernard Shaw is one of the most revered playwrites in history, and his cynical comedies invariably reflected the values of the time.  In reading the play, one could come away from it thinking it more of a drama than a comedy.  As this educator can attest, having seen it performed, the play received its share of laughs from the audience.  There is no question, though, a certain darkness lies at the heart of "Major Barbara.  The trade-offs involved in the story, in which the committed Salvation Army major is forced to accept that the interchange between the best and the worst of human nature is both inevitable and complex, see Major Barbara forced to confront her own preconceptions.  While Major Barbara can help the poor, personal redemption is less likely than material comfort, which can come only through the largess of the very industries she most decries.

Major Barbara is properly classified as a comedy.  The moral ambivalence at its core, however, helps to blur the distinction between that genre and one characteristic of a darker theme.


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