What Do I Read Next?
Mrs. Warren's Profession, a play written by Shaw in 1898, is also concerned with the morality of avoiding poverty by doing what may be considered immoral work. Shaw's original title for Major Barbara was Andrew Undershaft's Profession.
Mother Courage and Her Children, a play written by Bertolt Brecht in 1939, seems to have been influenced by Major Barbara. Mother Courage, like Undershaft, is dependent on war to make her living but at a severe cost to her children and herself.
The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, probably first performed in 1594, is a retelling of the legend of Faust, who sells his soul to the Devil. In Major Barbara, Undershaft is sometimes called Mephistopheles, the name of the Devil in Marlowe's play.
"Civil Disobedience," published in 1849, is an essay by Henry David Thoreau, who spent time in prison for refusing to pay taxes to support what he believed to be an immoral war. In this essay, Thoreau argues for following one's conscience, even if it means disobeying the law.
A Doll's House, a play by Henrik Ibsen, published in 1879, is also about the question of whether a seemingly immoral act can, in fact be the right thing to do. The play's lead character, Nora, is an early example of the strong independent woman of the late Victorian stage. Shaw was greatly influenced by Ibsen's work.
The Jungle, socialist Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel, reveals the horrors of workers' conditions in the Chicago meat-packing plants of that time. In his preface to Major Barbara, Shaw writes about Sinclair's novel showing the position in which a capitalist society places the poor.