Date of Graduation

Fall 2016


Master of Arts in Theatre


Theatre and Dance

Committee Chair

Christopher Herr


George Bernard Shaw, shavian method, life force, ethic, creative evolution, censorship

Subject Categories

Theatre and Performance Studies


The purpose of this study is to determine whether or not George Bernard Shaw reflects in his work any sort of moral ethic - a clearly delineated sense of right and wrong - and, if so, what it is and is not. His method, which is classically known as Shavian Method, is the vehicle employed in his stagecraft to achieve the objective of removing obstacles that prevent him from influencing the ethical opinions of others. In his plays, Shaw creates situations that highlight and over-exaggerate particular issues in the Victorian era such as poverty, prostitution, and religious piety. Shaw's plays tend to be overly argumentative and easily dismissed; it is easy to assume he merely created conflict for the sake of being destructive. However, when closely studied, a pattern emerges in his plays which requires a more thoughtful approach to societal issues. The four major plays covered here are some of the most controversial for their content and for the social problems they highlight. Mrs. Warren's Profession touches on prostitution and lack of opportunities for women in the workforce. Candida looks at the issues related to pious clerics. Major Barbara condemns religious and social organizations for their support of social poverty. Finally, Pygmalion is concerned with genuine transformation and its implications. By creating plays involving over-exaggerated scenarios and characters that center on current day issues, Shaw uses a method designed to provoke thought and action for a better society, commonly known as Shavian Method.


© Carol E. Auterson

Open Access