George Bernard Shaw: Man of the Century

By Archibald Henderson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 46
The Social Struggle

THE WAY OF THE SATIRIST IN THE THEATER IS HARD. IF HE SATIRIZES CURRENT customs and institutions too sharply, he runs the grave risk of driving from the theater the clientele on which his livelihood depends. Even if his livelihood be not dependent upon the success of his plays--and this was the case with Shaw--no man likes to fail in his chosen profession. Shaw entertained very decisive views regarding the function of the theater, taking it seriously as a forum for the most advanced ideas on contemporary social, economic, scientific and religious problems. He waged a continual warfare in behalf of the higher drama, the vehicle for constructive and reformatory ideas about current institutions. The fight he waged was an uphill battle for fifteen years.

Shaw's wit and satire were liabilities as well as assets. For the silly critics, who didn't know their own silly business, would attend his plays, laugh uproariously for three hours, and the next morning slate the play as unworthy of being treated seriously, because he so obviously had his tongue in his cheek! This went on so long that at last, in Fanny's First Play, he turned the tables on the critics and covered them with the most genial ridicule. The public, out of sheer enjoyment of this supposedly anonymous work, played Shaw's game for him, laughed the critics out of countenance, and left him completely victorious. His eminence, indeed, his pre-eminence, in contemporary British drama was never thereafter seriously challenged. Shaw had won the long battle against prejudice, stupidity, malevolence, and superciliousness.

The two critics who really failed him were Walkley and Archer. The Greek scholar, with his classic allusiveness and his reverence for French models, treated him with a patronizing condescension which to anyone not so equable and good-natured as Shaw would have been maddening. While finding Shaw "more entertaining than any other living writer for the stage," Walkley flatly pronounced him "no dramatist at all." The worthy Archer, with a reformatory zeal for the improvement of a man of intelligence and genius far beyond his capacity to understand, wrestled with this Dark Angel of the theater, who would go his own way, resolute and rejoicing. He protested against Shaw's introducing the most advanced ideas in the theater, crassly laughed at him for being ahead of his age, spoke in solemnly regretful tones of his most brilliant qualities, tacked deprecatory characterizations upon

-605-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
George Bernard Shaw: Man of the Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 978

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.