George Shaw Bernard Criticism: Major Barbara (1905) - Essay

Sidney P. Albert (essay date December 1971)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Albert, Sidney P. “The Price of Salvation: Moral Economics in Major Barbara.Modern Drama 14, no. 3 (December 1971): 307-23.

[In the following essay, Albert investigates the role of economics in Major Barbara.]

“In all my plays,” Bernard Shaw wrote to Archibald Henderson in 1904, “my economic studies have played as important a part as a knowledge of anatomy does in the works of Michael Angelo.”1 But the inclusion of economics in his plays, he always maintained, did not make them mere tracts. “My plays are no more economic treatises than Shakespeare's,” he declared in his Sixteen Self Sketches. “It is true that neither...

(The entire section is 7636 words.)

Kurt Tetzeli v. Rosador (essay date June 1974)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Rosador, Kurt Tetzeli v. “The Natural History of Major Barbara.Modern Drama 17, no. 2 (June 1974): 141-53.

[In the following essay, Rosador considers Major Barbara to be a depiction of Shaw's theory of history.]

When in 1949 Francis Fergusson described the content of Shavian drama as “unresolved paradox,”1 using Major Barbara and Heartbreak House as an illustration, he not only echoed countless early critics,2 but also furthered the label-sticking method of interpretation which has vitiated so much of Shaw criticism. “The play,” says Fergusson, “is a parlor-game based upon the freedom of the mind...

(The entire section is 5932 words.)

Trevor Whittock (essay date October 1978)

(Drama Criticism)

SOURCE: Whittock, Trevor. “Major Barbara: Comic Masterpiece.” Theoria 51 (October 1978): 1-14.

[In the following essay, Whittock discusses Major Barbara as a great English comic drama.]

The English dramatic tradition—if we can divert our eyes for a moment from the figure of Shakespeare who bestrides our petty, narrow world like a colossus—is essentially a tradition of comedy. Not that Englishmen have not written, or attempted to write, tragedies. Edward Marlowe, in the words of one of his characters, did ride in triumph through Persepolis; though Shakespeare indicated how much he thought his contemporary's heroics were mostly rant and rhetoric...

(The entire section is 6235 words.)