What Do I Read Next?
Major Barbara, another of Shaw's plays, first produced in 1905, and considered his first major work. It explores the ideological conflict between "Major" Barbara Undershaft, who strives to lift up the poor through her untiring effort with the Salvation Army, and her father, Sir Andrew Undershaft, a fabulously wealthy arms manufacturer. Both achievers represent Shaw's theory of the Life Force, or human advancement through "creative evolution." The play explores the question of whose actions better serve society, Barbara's or those of her father, who provides a comfortable existence for his employees but can only do so through his profiting by the destruction of human life. Similar to Pygmalion (and many of Shaw's other plays), the action revolves around a strong, independent female character and explores issues of class, social identity, and human worth.
The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism. A significant example of Shaw's political writing, one which examines many themes central to Pygmalion. The text demonstrates Shaw's firm, lifelong belief that only members of a socialist society—with collective ownership of wealth and equal opportunity for all—could look forward to the future with hope. Writing ten years after the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, Shaw viewed that experiment as a failure (recognizing the developing trend towards totalitarianism in the Soviet state). In general, Shaw looked with hope not to revolution but to a democratic transition to socialism, a truly collective evolution towards an equitable society. That "the intelligent woman" was his audience for the work was a deliberate choice; Shaw was particularly concerned with the exploitation of women, both through their unpaid but crucial domestic labor and their limited and underpaid positions in the work force. "Our whole commercial system," he wrote, "is rooted ... in cheap female labour." Shaw perceived the special need during his era to increase educational and employment opportunities for women. This text is of a significant length but has an encyclopedic structure.
Plays and Players: Essays on the Theatre, edited by A. C. Ward (Oxford University Press, 1952); and Shaw on the Theatre, edited by E. J. West (Hill and Wang, 1958). These volumes compile a number of Shaw's extensive writings on the theatre (commenting on both the plays and productions of his own career, as well as on other playwrights such as Shakespeare and Ibsen.)
Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell: Their Correspondence, edited by Alan Dent (Knopf, 1962). The compiled correspondence between Shaw and the actress who created the part of Liza in the English premiere. Shaw also wrote
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