George Bernard Shaw’s Style of Writing
G. B. Shaw’s New Drama
Shaw wanted to bring naturalism in the theatre. Discussion was to be the center of the new drama. It was to interpenetrate the action from beginning to the end. His objective was to untie theatrical show with the discussion of problematic moral ideas so that drama became an efficient vehicle for carrying ideas to the audience. He wanted the audience to be as involved as if watching a murder trial.
His Attitude Towards Society
In his attitude towards society, and towards ideas, Shaw shows a typical Victorian paternalism. He guided and scolded society for more than twenty years as if it were a public school and he the head master. His self-confidence was enormous and his own strength probably unending. He was willing to give his opinion on any subject and took all knowledge as his province. His attempts to solve the major problem of man and of civilization are strongly bound up with his attempts to revive the English theatre.
Shaw’s passion was for thinking. He valued honesty courage, intelligence in individuals, equality and order in society. He admired power. He was always moral interested in man’s moral character than in his psychological make up. Although he was not a Christian, than in his psychological make up. Although he was not a Christian, Shaw used religious concepts framed in religious terms to express his morality.
Shaw’s prose style has long been considered considered a model. However, in his plays ideas are presented so forcefully that readers and audience do not take proper notice of his style. Shaw’s style is not artistic or graceful. But his style demands keen observation and careful study. It is lively without being informal balanced without being artificial. Above all, it is easily understood, direct, precise and persuasive. It is a rhetorical style that smoothly and easily follows the rhythms and accents of speech and is capable of considerable variation. Shaw’s style is impersonal and incapable of conveying anything but generalized feelings. The limitations of his style faithfully reflect the limitations of his whole dramatic range.
Dramatically, Shaw was only really comfortable among the cultivated, leisured middle classes. Shaw’s aristocracy is unconvincing. His range of social types is strictly limited and they tend to appear again and again, strictly disguised in play after play. They are nearer to ‘humours’ than to characters. Mostly they lack emotions but try to make up for this by their passionate devotion to conversation. His artists are dull romantic and ineffectual and his business tycoons practical, single-minded and merciless. His heroines are striking without being glamorous, dominant without being overbearing, gifted with a practical intelligence. His heroes are mostly idealists who recognise the limitations of their idealism specially when they face the heroine. His characters have little or no private life of their own suffer few inner anxieties, are not driven on by fate or by sub-conscious forces over which they have little control.
Thus, Shaw expressed his ideas with the help of the clarity and rapidity of his style. He developed his style with great effort and pains. It is marked with his wit, epigram and irony. At many places Shaw becomes fluent but he does not impart emotional outpourings to his style like a romantic dramatist. His constant talking arguing, lecturing and debating contributed a great to the formation of his style. It is not always possible to agree with his views and ideas, but his style is surely and certainly attractive and interesting. But his style is not free from certain defects. It has coldness, coarseness and harsh severity. Though his style may not please our heart, but it certainly wakes up our intellect.
English Literature— Important links
- Major Works of George Bernard Shaw
- B. Shaw’s Theory of Life-Force
- Life History of G. B. Shaw (Biography)
- Shaw as an Artist and Socialist
- “Arms and the Man” (ACT-I) Summary
- Arms and the Man (Act-2) Summary
- Arms and the Man (Act- 3) Summary
- Arms and The Man (Act-1)- Explanation & Analysis
- B. Shaw’s place in Literature
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