Major Barbara

Title: Major Barbara Author: George Bernard Shaw Setting: The play extends over three days in January 1906. The beginning starts in the library of Lady Britomart, the estranged wife of Andrew Undershaft. It then continues with a visit to the West Ham Shelter of the Salvation Army. The play finally concludes at the Undershaft Empire, the munitions’ factory. Plot: Lady Britomart invites her estranged husband, Andrew Undershaft, over to reacquaint him with his children, Stephen, Sarah, and Barbara. Lady Britomart is in need of more money to support their daughters and their intended’s, Charles Lomax and Adolphus Cusins. Barbara tries to convert her father and save his soul. While Andrew will convert his daughter, Barbara to his side. Cast of Key Characters Major Barbara Undershaft “Conformist” Barbara to Lady Britomart 65 Lady Britomart has just informed the girls, Sarah and Barbara, that their father, Andrew Undershaft, will be arriving at any time. She has already informed Stephen Undershaft. Since it has been a long time ago, when they were babies, that Andrew has seen the children she wishes for them to be on their best behavior. Lady Brit wants to ask Andrew for money for the girls and their intended’s, Charles Lomax and Adolphus Cusins; therefore, she has asked them to be there also. To accommodate her mother she attempts to conform to a ladylike appearance. Quote: “All right, mother. We’ll do you credit. She comes off the table, and sits in her chair with ladylike elegance.” “Director” Barbara to Shirley 83 Bill Walker has just assaulted two women, Rummy and Jenny Hill, at the West Ham Shelter. He is looking for his woman. Barbara comes out to take the names of the people who have arrived and to save their souls. She takes control of the situation in a professional way. She directs Shirley to sit down and for the gentlemen there to give her their names, addresses, and trades. Barbara is trying to put order back to the disorder that had just occurred. Quote: “Sit down: make yourself at home. He hesitates; but she puts a friendly hand on his shoulder and makes him obey. Now then! Since you’ve made friends with us, we want to know all about you. Names and addresses and trades.” “Conniver” Barbara to Bill Walker 84 Shirley has given Barbara his name and trade. She then turns to Bill to give his name. Bill refuses to give his name to her. She then tries to coax it out of him, by making a note in her book and calling him chicken basically. Quote: “calmly making a note Afraid to give his name. Any trade? “Caregiver” Barbara to Jenny 87 Barbara has been talking with Bill about what he had done earlier to the women and trying to get him to see the light. Bill tells her he is looking for his woman, Mog. Barbara tells him where she is but it won’t do him any good to go to get here back she has found another man. She will more then likely convert him, because that is how she won her new bow. She decides to let him think about this for awhile and turns her attentions to Jenny. With sincere concern she asks if Jenny is all right and comforts her with a gentle touch. Quote: “Poor little Jenny! Are you tired? Does it hurt?” “Oppressor” Barbara to Bill 89 Barbara has been talking with her father about how he and Shirley are both Secularists. Andrew says his religion is that of a millionaire. She says she is wrong they don’t have anything in common then. Barbara dismisses Shirley and turns to her father. He asks about Bill. She says they will convert him in time. She seems to read Bill’s mind when she says she is sure her would like to smash Mog’s head in. He is amazed that she knew what he was thinking. She tries to scare him by saying that his new companion is the devil. And when the devil comes round he depresses people like him. Quote: “The devil, Bill. When he gets round people they get miserable, just like you.” “Fanatic” Barbara to Bill 90 Barbara is hell bent on saving Bill’s soul she keeps talking to him about the terrible thing he has done, hitting a good soul like Jenny Hill. She has become relentless. Telling him to hold out against the conversion and that he hasn’t a heart. She is playing on his guilt to make him repent and be converted to the light. She wants to know why he keeps thinking about the deed if he is not feeling guilty. Quote: “A man with a heart wouldn’t have bashed poor little Jenny’s face, would he?” “Critic” Barbara to Andrew 99 Barbara has just come back with Snobby Price from the shelter. Snobby has told his story of wickedness and they have collected four and tenpence. Barbara wish Snobby had been just a bit more wicked to his mother then they might have received five shillings. Her father, Andrew Undershaft, is sitting listening to the tale and offers to give the difference to make up the five shillings. Barbara wants to know how he made the money. By selling guns of course. She criticizes him for attempting to buy his soul into forgiveness. The salvation must be worked for. Quote: “Put it in your pocket. You cant buy your salvation here for twopence: you must work it out.” “Loner” Barbara to herself 111 Good news had come from Mrs. Baines that Bodger would donate 5000 pounds to the shelter if she could get five other to donate 1000 pounds each. Barbara is at first excited until she learns that this man makes his money from selling spirits. Her father then offers the other 5000 pounds. He begins to write the check. Barbara protests that these men should not be allowed to buy their salvation. She becomes dishearten when the money is accepted and even Cusins agrees that it must be taken for the poor of the shelter. Because of this act she has lost the soul of Bill for he sees them buying their way out of sin. She feels dissolute and alone. Quote: “Drunkenness and Murder! My God: why hast thou forsaken me?” Andrew Undershaft “Judge” Undershaft to Lomax 67 Andrew Undershaft has just been introduced to his children, that he has not seen since they were babies. He blunders who they are quite badly. He mistakes Sarah’s fiance, Charles Lomax, for his son. He then mistakes Barbara’s fiance, Adolphus Cusins, for his son. Even after Cusins introduces everyone he calls Sarah by Barbara. Lomax makes the comment that it must take time to get used to being there again. Andrew says it is not that. He judges himself that as a father he is a stranger and as a semi-intruder he will seem an uncaring father. Quote: “My difficulty is that if I play the part of a father, I shall produce the effect of an intrusive stranger; and if I play the part of a discreet stranger, I may appear a callous father.” “Visionary” Undershaft to Cusins 94 Undershaft and Cusins are discussing the two things that Undershaft feels are necessary for salvation, money and gunpowder. Undershaft has no use for honor truth and justice in his religion for without money and gunpowder you cannot afford them. Undershaft tells Cusins that in order for him to live his life the way he proclaims and saves people he must have money and power. At the end of the play this is what converts both Cusins and Barbara to Andrew’s world. He is giving us insight to the furture for Cusins. Quote: “I think, my friend, that if you wish to know, as the long days go, that to live is happy, you must first acquire money enough for a decent life, and power enough to be your own master.” “Conniver” Undershaft to Cusins 96 Undershaft and Cusins have been discussing religion. Now Undershaft wishes to deal with the business at hand, getting Barbara for himself and Cusins. Cusins doesn’t want to do business he felt they were talking about religion. Undershaft tells him that religion is the business at hand for it is the way to achieve their goals of having Barbara to themselves. Cusins only joined the Salvation Army to be near Barbara. Undershaft has come to the shelter to find an inlet to Barbara. He uses the need of money for the Salvation Army to get Barbara to leave. Quote: “Religion is our business at present, because it is through religion alone that we can win Barbara.” “Traditionalist” Undershaft to Lady Britomart 118 Undershaft has arrived to take the family to his munition factory. When he comes in he and Lady Brit are alone. Lady Brit approaches the subject of the girls needing money to support their intended’s and themselves. He agrees without any difficulty. She then approaches the subject of Stephen. Lady Brit wants Stephen to inherit the factory. Undershaft tells her that he cannot break the tradition. Every Undershaft has been a foundling and that has been the tradition for years. It is also the tradition that the wives argue with the Undershaft husbands about the disinheriting of the eldest son. Quote: My dear Biddy: the Undershaft tradition disinherits him. It would be dishonest of me to leave the cannon foundry to my son.” “Oppressor” Undershaft to Lady Brit 120 Undershaft and Lady Brit are arguing over the fact that he will not make Stephen his successor. Undershaft tells her that if she wishes to keep the factory in the family then she must find a suitable man to marry Barbara that will fit the tradition. She sees now that Barbara is his pet. He attempts to put her in her rightful place as a woman and his wife by telling her she must submit to him. Quote: “Just as much as it is your duty to submit to your husband.” “Critic” Undershaft to Cusins 147 Undershaft has offered the foundling position to Cusins. Cusins is unable to make up his mind for he still has a sense of morality that selling guns is wrong. He is trying to resist the temptation laid before him of the money that would free him to do well by his conscience. Undershaft can feel that he is winning this man over and he keeps pushing. He criticizes Cusins weapons against him. They pity and love, have failed him now he must try forgiveness. Undershaft will win. Quote: “You are fencing, Euripides. You are weakening: your grip is slipping. Come! Try your last weapon. Pity and love have broken in your hand: forgiveness is still left.” Adolphus Cusins “Jester” Cusins to Lady Britomart 63 Lady Brit is preparing to tell Sarah and Barbara, and their intended’s that the girls’ father, Andrew Undershaft, is coming to the home that evening. She is quite serious in her manner of speaking, but Adolphus is laughing. She would expect this from Charles but not him. He explains that Barbara was attempting to show him how to do the Salvation Army March. Lady Brit feels if he were truly converted this would not be humorous. Quote: “Barbara has been trying to teach me the West Ham Salvation March.” “Director” Cusins to Undershaft 67 Andrew Undershaft has just entered the home of Lady Brit, his estranged wife. She had requested he come. He is unsure of who his children are since they were babies when he left. He has already mistaken Lomax for his son. He then mistakes Cusins for his son. Undershaft keeps putting his foot in his mouth. Cusins feels sorry for him and takes control of the situation. Cusins introduces everyone and who they are and how they are related to Undershaft. Quote: “My name is Cusins: engaged to Barbara. That is Major Barbara Undershaft of the Salvation Army. That is Sarah, your second daughter. This is Stephen Undershaft, your son.” “Oppressor” Cusins to Undershaft 96 Undershaft and Cusins are discussing Barbara and her religion coming from within herself. They are at the West Ham Shelter. They are talking about winning Barbara through religion. Undershaft has gone on a tirade about how Barbara will take over his vision and preach of his views about money and gunpower. Cusins is attempting to put Undershaft back in his place by telling him he is crazy. Quote: “urbanely: trying to bring him down to earthOf course you know that you are mad.” “Visionary” Cusins to Lady Brit 116 Cusins is still drunk from the night before with Undershaft. Lomax, Barbara, and Lady Brit are horrified. He tells how Undershaft didn’t want his name mentioned as the benefactor of the Salvation Army. He said that Undershaft would be bombard by the charitable organizations. Lady Brit declares that is just like him to use an unjust reason for doing a good deed. Cusins says he has been swayed by Undershaft to believe he too has been doing this most of his life. This gives insight into the way Undershaft brings Adolphus to become his foundling. Quote: He convinced me that I have all my life been doing improper things for proper reasons.” “Dreamer” Cusins to Barbara 149 Cusins has been battling with his morals as to whether or not he should join Undershaft in his foundry. He and Barbara are talking that there is no power for him. Even though he has decided to take the position. Adolphus dreams of giving the power to the world. Which will make it a better place. Quote: “I know. It is not for myself alone. I want to make power for the world.” Lady Britomart Undershaft “Oppressor” Lady Britomart to Stephen Undershaft 52 Lady Brit wishes to speak to her son Stephen on a serious matter. Stephen is quite nervous about what is to be told to him. Treating him like a child Lady Brit demands he bring her a cushion and sit down. She then orders him to stop fidgeting with his tie. She is trying to dominate over his insecurities. Quote: “Bring me my cushion. Sit down. Don’t fiddle with your tie, Stephen: there is nothing the matter with it.” “Avant-garde” Lady Brit to Stephen 53 Lady Britomart has asked Stephen for advise with the family affairs-the welfare of his sisters, Barbara and Sarah, and himself- Stephen feels there are certain subjects he should not approach. Lady Brit then initiates the subject of her estranged husband, Andrew Undershaft. It is her intention to invite him over to ask him for money for the girls and their intended’s, Charles and Adolphus. Andrew has not seen the children since their infancy. Quote: “I suppose you mean your father.” “Judge” Lady Brit to Stephen 56 Lady Brit and Stephen are discussing why she and Andrew are separated. Andrew is a bastard child who was adopted and raised to take control of the cannon factory. Out of tradition Andrew is looking for someone to adopt and train in the business so they might inherit it. Andrew is unashamed of his background. Lady Brit feels that Andrew is doing an injustice to their son by disinheriting him. Quote: “Yes, because he was content with being a fondling himself: he wanted to disinherit you for another fondling. That was what I couldn’t stand.” “Conniver” Lady Brit to Stephen 60 Stephen has just found out all the immoral things there is to know about his father. He has also found out that all the money that supports his family comes from his father. Lady Brit says that the money is settled, but more is needed for Sarah and Barbara to support their intended husbands, Charles Lomax and Adolphus Cusins. She is trying to get Stephen to say for her to ask Andrew for the money; therefore it is not all on her head. Quote: “I am not determined: I ask your advice, and I am waiting for it. I will not have all the responsibility thrown on my shoulders.” Charles Lomax “Critic” Lomax to Undershaft 70 Undershaft and Barbara are talking about the Salvation Army. Lomax is playing the concertina. Barbara asks Undershaft if he can play any instrument. He says he plays the trombone. Lomax is scandalized. Barbara says many sinners have played their way to heaven with the trombone. Lomax criticizes Undershaft by saying that isn’t his cup of tea. Quote: “Getting into heaven is not exactly your line, is it?” “Avant-garde” Lomax to Barbara 114 Lomax is the first to state about Barbara not wearing her Salvation Army Uniform. This is after the upset she had at the Shelter. Quote: “You’ve left off your uniform!” “Jester” Lomax to Lady Brit 117 Lady Brit has said to Adolphus that since Barbara has left the Salvation Army he must also. He has already done so. Barbara would like to know if he would have joined if he hadn’t seen her. He stammers, he thinks she is about to find out that he only joined to win her hand in marriage. Charles is trying to be cunning and reveal Cusins secret. Lady Brit scowled at him. Then he jokes about his actions. Quote: “Well, drivel is drivel, don’t you know, whatever a man’s age.” Theme The play has many themes in each of its acts, but the major theme is the battle between good and evil through wealth and power. The first power battle comes between Lady Britomart and Andrew Undershaft over the affection of the children. Lady Brit must invite Undershaft over to her home after many years of estrangement and she states that Undershaft has a charisma that allows him to plant his wickedest ideas into children and they will follow. In the end of the play she loses her children to him and his money at the cannon factory. Barbara breaks down and decides that she should focus her opinions on those who are well fed. Stephen must admit that the place is much nicer than he had expected. Undershaft makes an affront against the Salvation Army with his money. He uses the need of money for the Salvation Army to get Barbara to leave. Good news had come from Mrs. Baines that Bodger would donate 5000 pounds to the shelter if she could get five other to donate 1000 pounds each. Barbara is at first excited until she learns that this man makes his money from selling spirits. Her father then offers the other 5000 pounds. He begins to write the check. Barbara protests that these men should not be allowed to buy their salvation. She becomes dishearten when the money is accepted and even Cusins agrees that it must be taken for the poor of the shelter. Because of this act she has lost the soul of Bill for he sees them buying their way out of sin. Cusins has been battling with his morals as to whether or not he should join Undershaft in his foundry. He and Barbara are talking that there is no power for him. Adolphus accepts Undershaft’s job offer after he realizes he cannot accomplish good in the world without money and influence. Undershaft and Cusins are discussing the two things that Undershaft feels are necessary for salvation, money and gunpowder. Undershaft has no use for honor truth and justice in his religion for without money and gunpowder you cannot afford them. Undershaft tells Cusins that in order for him to live his life the way he proclaims and saves people he must have money and power. At the end of the play this is what converts both Cusins and Barbara to Andrew’s world. The quote that embodies this theme is “I think, my friend, that if you wish to know, as the long days go, that to live is happy, you must first acquire money enough for a decent life, and power enough to be your own master.” Pg. 94. The third Act of the play is necessary to tie up all the loose ends. It is no better than the rest of the play. Of course I really didn’t like this play. I felt the extremes were to overbearing.

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