George Bernard Shaw

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George Bernard Shaw was a giant figure within the intellectual, political and theatrical fields in the Twentieth Century. Because he lived so long (into his nineties), his legacy spread throughout a number of different endeavors, but there is a recurring theme throughout all his work.


The social themes present within Pygmalion and other more or less "political" plays had a profound influence upon a number of different dramas. While political theatre may in many ways be traced to the very beginnings of Western drama in Ancient Greece (Fischer-Lichte, 2005), in recent times it was Shaw who introduced the idea that a play could be both political and entertaining.
The influence of Pygmalion is difficult to exaggerate. First, it provided the opportunity for playwrights to use language in a way that they had not been able to before. Shaw provided playwrights working in the late Twenteith Century with an impetus to use language/plot that was considered scandalous. It may seem quaint today, but at the time the fact that Eliza says "not bloody likely (Shaw, 1980) was seen as scandalous and shocking. Characters in proper drama on the West End simply did not swear. Shaw received complaints about the 'swearing' but kept the language in because he said it was the realistic vernacular of the person within that situation (Innes, 1998). The subject matter of Mrs Warren's Professioni (prostitution), especially the fact that it was tackled in a manner which showed the pressures that society puts on women that causes them to become prostitutes, also received a good deal of public criticism. ...
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