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Major Barbara

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  2,984 ratings  ·  93 reviews
"Major Barbara, Bernard Shaw's story of the conversion contest between the arms manufacturer Andrew Undershaft and his daughter, the Salvation Army Major, is a provocative dramatization of the relationship between money, power, and moral purpose. A landmark in the history of British theatre when first produced at the Royal Court in 1905, it remains strikingly relevant toda ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 11th 1989 by Penguin Books (first published 1905)
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Community Reviews

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A Marxist play.
What more can I say?
Shaw's one of a kind,
And he had a great mind,
But he used it to say
That he'd found a way
To live without truth -
He believed it, forsooth!
He fought against God,
And built his facade
By claiming that reason
Was funding his treason.
He poked at all morals
And fueled all his quarrels
With words smooth as honey -
In short, he was funny!
It's not hard to mock
Or even to shock,
But for all his jeering
His methods are queering,
For Shaw fails to show
Why his strange credo
Is any
Wow is Shaw a master of putting a lot of provocative ideas in a short play. A young lady rejects society to try to save the bellies, livers, and souls of the poor - is she truly a good person? An arms manufacturer claims power over government to get them to make war so he can sell weapons to all who can pay - is he truly a bad person? Is the pragmatic matron or the idealistic professor more likely to hold sway over their own destinies? Or over the destinies of the others in the family?

A line fr
Lina AL Ojaili
شو يتناول قضايا العملية الاقتصادية في صراع مع المثالية الأخلاقية
A witty but devastatingly subversive play which mocks Christianity in general and the Salvation Army in partioular. And as is always the case with Shaw, it comes with a long-winded, preachy preface designed to hammer home the author's ideology, just in case the stupid reader did not get it from the play.
Sep 27, 2011 Shriya rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who think highly of morality
First of all, I'd like to mention that 'Major Barbara' just like the female protagonist of the play, 'saved my soul' not through the salvation army but by being the first book I had read in almost a fortnight! The depression that had followed was unbearable and 'Major Barbara' literally pulled me out of it today, when I started reading it again!
Now about the play:
You read a lot of plays. Some are tragic, some are comic and some are simply Shavian. You go about the world, with your own notion
Wael Mahmoud
After reading so many plays by Shaw, I liked only this play, In it i like Shaw the satiric but not necessarily Shaw the intellectual, although i preference socialism, but have an unrest about the the western Europeans - and Americans - Socialists specially the celebrity ones.

Back to the play, I think the most remarkable element about it is its characters, Shaw's sarcasm of every one - except maybe Undershaft - is clear - at least for me. In this screen version he is free to present the scenes as
The problem with Shaw is that I always feel crabbier when I read him. Even Pygmalion, which strikes me as a superior play, makes me slightly irritable, and Major Barbara doesn’t have any musical tunes to hum while you’re trudging through Shaw’s dreary I Am So Keenly Critical and Nuanced dialogue. The other problem is that, in my opinion, he’s neither keen nor nuanced. He’s bigoted and cranky, and his weak humor begs an unfavorable comparison to Oscar Wilde, who probably didn’t like this play eit ...more
Uday Desai
Jul 04, 2011 Uday Desai rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Uday by: Cheryl
This is the first play /work by Shaw that I read, and I liked it so much, even it is old written in 1905. I am going to read his other plays and novels. Well I am going to read it again and may be I will edit this review.

If God Gave the Hand, Let Not Man Withold the Sword.

All Have the Right to Fight: None Have the Right to Judge.

To Man the Weapon: To Heaven the Victory.


Having said this, The play Major Barbara is writt
This is now the third time I have read Major Barbara for it stands as the ultimate question/answer primer on the necessity of war and the arguments against it. Essentially it is about a young woman who is a Salvation Army girl and her father, the world's largest arms dealer. Their tete-a-tete and the explosions that happen in the relationship have inspired many other books, plays and essays. If you can only read two plays by Shaw, let it be Pygmalion and Major Barbara. If you only read one, let ...more
I feel like the genius of the play's ideas merits more than 2 stars; HOWEVER, this wasn't an enjoyable read. Far from it. From hopelessly trying to decipher the writing style Shaw uses to portray the dialect of the poor to struggling to determine what exactly Shaw was recommending, I found it difficult to appreciate Major Barbara.

What I think Shaw is trying to say is that only through wealth can we eradicate poverty. Which, in the case of Undershaft using his munitions factory to outfit potenti
I last read this play as a teenager, and I don't remember it as well as I would ideally wish. I recall the moral as being, roughly, that the Christian world-view was entirely compatible with the ethos of the military-industrial complex. Can that really be right? Maybe there was some level of irony I wasn't properly getting? I should re-read it. But, ironic or not, full marks to Shaw for prescience: the term "military-industrial complex" wouldn't even be invented for another few decades, and I do ...more
A brilliant summation of the place of capital in war-mongering and peace-striving. The Salvation Army proposes peace, but in order to keep the charity going to support peace, Major Barbara elicits contributions from her father Undershaft the munitions maker. In Eisenhower's term, Undershaft is the perfect representative of the military-industrial complex. Peace itself depends upon Undershaft
Read a s a college freshman, struck with Shaw's insight and character portrayal.
لم اتفاجأ من الواقعيه , وتصوير العالم على انه مكان قذر وتظل دائما جملة صلاح عبدالصبور في ذهني
:"السوسه في أصل الشجره"
Victor Lameirão
This is not preachy in spite many of what many of the other reviewers say.

Shaw is not taking a moral high ground and telling people what the should think.

He is raising the level of discourse, he is putting important themes and subjects on the spectators minds.

This is not a play to agree or disagree with. It's one to make people talk about important things when they leave the theater.

I, unfortunately, didn't have the pleasure to see it on the stage.

A great and short read nonetheless.
ليست تلك المسرحية المليئة بالأحداث لمن يهتم بذلك بدايةً :)

مسرحية تظهر فيها شخصية برنارد شو وفلسفته الخاصه تجاه السياسه هذه المرّه ، حيث يلعب الفقر الدور الأساسي فيها ، حيث يعرض شو بإسلوبه المختلف في الكتابه عن صراع الفقر مع حياة عادله يطلبها الجميع .. وحياة اخرى يعيشها الجميع !
Michael Meeuwis
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that this is the Shaw comedy I've seen most frequently--or at all, really: this is the one I've read where the ideas and the it-actually-has-to-be-a-play-ness work best together. I find the pub Nietzschean bits quite repellent as philosophy, but the play works to make those points by being clever and well-made. I find the destruction of the title character shocking on the page; she's made to change character, in effect, to suit the plot and its philosophy. Stil ...more
I feel rather dumb after reading this book. As I am still unable to understand what Shaw really wanted to tell or whatever little bit I have understood was that he wanted to tell?? Or was there something more?? As much as I liked his writing some how it was very hard to relate or agree with Shaw’s principles or preaching right away. When he says ‘playing the thief or murderer is better rather than the pauper or slave’ or something like that if my understanding is right there he wanted tell us th ...more
I usually really like Bernard Shaw. Pygmalion is my favorite play ever, in fact. But something really is missing from this play- it just doesn't equal to Pygmalion or even Saint Joan, for that matter.

I like where he was wanting to go with this, but I got really lost and had to backtrack, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. My one issue that I usually have with Shaw is that he can be so awfully boring at times because he is far too verbose to understand sometimes- but when he is good, he's really
I just adore the way that George Bernard Shaw writes (almost as much as Oscar Wilde- it is probably why they were friends.) Andrew Undershaft is the real reason to read this play. He is witty and makes you want to agree with him even though nothing he says really makes sense when you think about it. He just says things so well and is so open and frank about who he is that you find yourself nodding and smiling along with him, only to be surprised that you are agreeing when you really ponder on th ...more
Awesome play for when you're in the mood to do some heavy contemplation. This was my introduction to Shaw, and I wasn't at all prepared for what a brilliantly subversive mind he has. Shaw is a socialist who views poverty as the worst sin mankind can commit, wishes to abolish all forms of punishment except the death penalty, and spends much of the play attacking the methodology of the Salvation Army, and, by association, most other Christian organizations as well. He attacks capitalism and revile ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
This is one weird play. None of the characters seem like real people and they are all obnoxious. The main theme is an interesting one: an argument betwixt right and wrong. Shaw points out that all money for organizations like the Salvation Army comes from the war-makers and booze-makers. What meaning does salvation have in this context? Also, how much does a salvation borne of starvation fed mean? It actually occurs to me that the dynamic between charity/morality and between industry/immorality ...more
As usual, GBS barely leaves time for dramatic action between the long declamations of his political and philosophical musings. But there's no denying the brilliance of what you hear: the clash between a just world with poverty, and an unjust world without it.

Cusins: Do you call poverty a crime?

Undershaft: The worst of crimes. All the other crimes are virtues beside it; all the other dishonors are chivalry itself by comparison. Poverty blights whole cities, spreads horrible pestilences, strike
"It is the Undershaft inheritance. I shall hand on my torch to my daughter. She shall make my converts and preach my gospel – "

George Bernard Shaw is rarely easy and never simple. He continually pushed boundaries and tested limits, and his 1905 play ‘Major Barbara’ is no exception.

Set against the backdrop of Edwardian Britain, where the problem of huge slum populations would eventually lead to the 1906 landslide victory of the Liberal Party and the creation of the welfare state, Shaw explores th
Mohammad Aref
Quotes from the play - Major Barbara / G.Bernard Shaw
مختارات من مسرحية – الرائد باربارا / جورج برنارد شو
People may differ about matters of opinion, or even about religion; but how can they differ about right and wrong? Right is right; and wrong is wrong; and if a man cannot distinguish them properly, he is either a fool or a rascal: that’s all.
قد يختلف الناس في الرأي أو حتى في الدين، ولكن كيف يختلفون حول الخير والشر ، الخير خير و الشر شر ، وإذا لم يستطع الإنسان أن يميز بينهما تمييزاً صحيحا
At this remove Major Barbara is somewhat conflated with Sister Sarah from Guys and Dolls. I was very struck at the time by the idea that someone could be involved in a bad business (arms manufacture) and could do much good for one's employees, etc. Now I'm more of the opinion that the ends don't justify anything and that people involved in one bad business are likely involved in more, such as abusing workers rights. Sure, you could be benevolent, but that's pretty rare.
Read this play in preparation for seeing Kushner's new Intelligent Homosexual's Guide... which references Shaw. Barbara, it turns out, has an exciting premise but dull characterizations and a terrible second act. Kushner's characters have probably the best criticism of Shaw's play: "It's the emasculation of the working class by a sentimental pseudo-socialist, peddling an idealist conception of history!" Though, who goes to Shaw for something other than idealism?
I thy roughly enjoyed reading his play by Shaw. It really centers around the idea of a corrupt religious society which I found to be very interesting. I feel that today's society is having to deal with corrupt religious institutions, so to see these same issues set in a different type period was a very cool thing. It really made me think about power, money, and religion and who really runs the show.
Yesterday I was making some advanced mental notes dividing the causes of human laughter into joy, fun, the joke proper, and flippancy. And that was all well and good but I was having some ongoing opportunities with my subclass alignment.

After considerable mental thought I placed the second-rate tempters, indecency and bawdy humour, underneath the flippancy flagship. Witticism, provided that one first cultivates incongruities with one's pretext, was sub classed underneath the joke proper. And, y
Peter Jakobsen
A scream: armaments manufacturer Andrew Undershaft wants a successor; his Bible walloping daughter concludes it is better to take money from the devil for good use than leave it with him. Very rude about the Salvation Army and worth re-consideration in these times of 'clean charity' (not to mention boycott, divestment and sanctions).

Amanda Petrucelli
I don't believe I've ever read George Bernard Shaw before and it has been a really long time since I tried to read a play with dialect to boot. This was very difficult to read. An enjoyable plotline with ancient themes, I still found the media too distracting to really get into the mood of the messages. Maybe I'll try again when I'm older and smarter.
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George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright, socialist, and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama. Over the course of his life he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his plays address prevailing social problems, but ...more
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Pygmalion Pygmalion and Three Other Plays Pygmalion & My Fair Lady Arms and the Man Saint Joan

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“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.” 367 likes
“You have learnt something. That always feels at first as if you have lost something.” 78 likes
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