John Bull's Other Island

by George Bernard Shaw

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 253

John Bull’s Other Island was written in 1904 by George Bernard Shaw. It is paired with a second play of his, O’Flaherty V.C. Both works share his experiences returning to Ireland. The main character is Larry Doyle, who has taken to British culture and rejects his Irish identity. Tom Broadbent is the antagonist, a British businessman. The two own a firm in London as civil engineers. Their business takes them back to Ireland in Doyle’s hometown of Roscullen. Broadbent, who thinks all too highly of himself, looks forward to helping the poor Irish develop their land. Broadbent is swept up by the scenery of Ireland and is welcomed into the community. The only community member wary of him is the priest Father Keegan. He sees Broadbent as a greedy businessman who is not trustworthy. Nora Reilly is a young local girl who is awaiting Doyle’s return. However, Broadbent begins to fall for her, which causes Doyle great relief. Broadbent quickly takes advantage of the town and digs in the heels of his business. He runs for local office and owns most of the loans on the homes in town. Soon his plans to turn the town into an amusement park are revealed. He has plans to build up his business, the Syndicate, and employ the poor farmers. There are write-ups for a hotel and golf course near the town square. Father Keegan provides some final words of wisdom, advising Doyle on his Irish roots and to distrust the English.

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