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Major Barbara
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Bibliographic Detail
Publisher Createspace Independent Pub
Publication date January 1, 2014
Pages 108
Binding Paperback
Book category Adult Fiction
ISBN-13 9781494863944
ISBN-10 1494863944
Dimensions 0.50 by 6 by 9 in.
Weight 0.42 lbs.
Original list price $5.98
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Summaries and Reviews
Amazon.com description: Product Description: Poverty is a crime. So says Andrew Undershaft, the extremely wealthy owner of a tremendously successful English armaments business, in George Bernard Shaw's play "Major Barbara." Undershaft, whose self-proclaimed religion is his wealth and his industry, inherited the business from a long line of Andrew Undershafts, each of whom was a foundling adopted by the corresponding previous Andrew Undershaft. This is not to say that the Undershafts don't marry and have families -- the current Andrew Undershaft has married the aristocratic Lady Britomart and has three children by her; he just doesn't let them have anything to do with the family business, preferring to stick to the tradition of bringing in an outsider to perpetuate the Andrew Undershaft dynasty. Indeed, Undershaft feels that poverty is the primordial crime from which all other crimes -- burglary, murder -- spring, and that it is better to give a poor man a job so he can afford to live rather than spend public money on methods of punishing him should he violate the law in his efforts to afford to live. Undershaft moralizes when he speaks, but in actuality he scoffs at what he considers ordinary Christian morals of the kind professed by his daughter Barbara, who has joined the Salvation Army in her fervid desire to help the poor and has attained the rank of major. She works at a shelter doling out bread and milk to the downtrodden and trying to find work for the unemployed, but her real goal is to bring them to "salvation" by raising them to a higher state of spirituality. When her fiance, a scholar of Greek named Adolphus Cusins, who by a certain twist of logic happens to be his own cousin, reveals himself to be a foundling, Undershaft decides he's found his heir. Although the play reflects the perspectives that Shaw, as a Socialist, had on the effects of poverty on morality and society, he doesn't seem to take sides with his characters and instead lets them be funny within the context of their respective social classes. His idle rich characters are lovably comical, like the mentally vapid trio of Undershaft's son Stephen (who wouldn't know what to do with his father's armaments business even if he were qualified to inherit it), daughter Sarah, and her fiance Charles Lomax. His impoverished characters -- those who come to the Salvation Army shelter for handouts -- can be honorably industrious like Peter Shirley or pugnacious and troublesome like Bill Walker. If Undershaft, for all his willingness to feed his fortune by manufacturing items that shed the blood of millions, represents the right way to fix poverty and Barbara the wrong way, why is the play named after her? The answer, quite possibly, is that her morality is one with which most theatergoers of the day could identify, while Undershaft's is idiosyncratic to say the least. The playwright uncovers the debate about war and pacifism. Although Shaw's play illuminates the poverty industry, it also sparks debates on pacifism. In the end, Major Barbara was a vehicle for a debate on philosophies or burning issues of his day. George Bernard Shaw shows that the audience can laugh and think, in the same play. Probably Britain's best known playwright, after Shakespeare, Shaw shines in Major Barbara

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