Victorian Playwrights Essay

2055 words - 8 pages

The Victorian Era in the United Kingdom is archetypally deemed the time period when Queen Victoria ruled, from 1837 to 1901 (Miller 1). While the Queen’s reign altered many social aspects of British life, perhaps the most noticeable was drama. Previously, theatre had been precluded and disapproved of due to various reasons, particularly religion. However, Queen Victoria chose to attend histrionic performances often and eventually made it reputable. The Queen considered Shakespeare too confusing of a playwright (Airdrie 1) and it soon became the job of numerous others to create amusing plays that she and countless other Europeans would enjoy. Although the playwrights of the Victorian era such as George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, and J.M. Barrie came from extremely diverse backgrounds and circumstances, each one gave writing their all in the hopes that they would both express themselves and regale their audience.
Perhaps the best known of the Victorian playwrights, George Bernard Shaw was born on July 26, 1856 to a drunkard, George Carr Shaw, and his wife, Lucinda Elisabeth Shaw (George Bernard Shaw 1), a lower-middle class family (Mazer 1). Shaw attended Wesleyan Connexional School before transferring to Dublin’s Central Model School. From there, he proceeded to Dublin English Scientific and Commercial Day School. However, his schooling concluded around the age of fifteen when he began to work as a clerk (George Bernard Shaw 1). It was at this time that Shaw’s mother left her husband and moved with a singing coach of hers to London (Mazer 1). By 1876, Shaw had joined his mother in London (George Bernard Shaw 1) where he pursued journalism and writing while reading excessively and even becoming involved in politics and public speaking. He did not return to his homeland for nearly thirty years. It is believed that the author’s parents’ estranged relationship is the basis for many of the troubled relationships in his plays, such as Misalliance (Mazer 1). During Shaw’s first few years in London, his Immaturity was engendered but had very little success. By 1884 (George Bernard Shaw 1), he had helped to found the Fabian Society, a “socialist political organization dedicated to transforming Britain into a socialist state, not by revolution but by systematic progressive legislation, bolstered by persuasion and mass education (Mazer 1).” The Fabian Society is currently Britain’s oldest “political think tank (About the Fabian Society 1).” He served on the executive committee for this organization for nearly twenty-six years (George Bernard Shaw 1), continuing to lecture and write pamphlets such as The Perfect Wagnerite and The Quintessence of Ibsenism for them. During this time, Shaw became involved with writing criticism and worked as an art, music, and theatre critic before eventually writing for the Saturday Review (Mazer 2). His articles were later collected and published in 1932 within a book entitled Our Theatres in the Nineties (George Bernard...

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