Examining Gender Roles in Man and Superman Essay example

Examining Gender Roles in Man and Superman Essay example

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The dynamics of the characters and relationships represented in Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman have created a buzz of critical debate among the world of theater for the past century. The focus typically remains on two of the main characters, Ann Whitefield and John “Jack” Tanner, in an effort to examine in entirety whether the characters represent gender roles that oppose the accepted social norm or whether the characters actually support the typical gender roles. Bernard Shaw, when viewed by the standards of his time and perhaps modern society as well, constructed a dramatic representation that is supportive of the political ideas concerning the social equality of the sexes. While the characters Ann and Jack may possess stereotypical gender characteristics that motive their actions in the play, both characters advance the political movements for equality of Shaw’s time by exploring their sexuality on stage, witnessed by a live audience.
By discussing and giving examples of human emotions such as passion, love, envy, and jealousy, Shaw was able to show the range of human beings – regardless of their gender. Shaw wanted to demonstrate to his audience and contemporaries his belief that people should take pleasure in their emotions and that they should submerse themselves into their true sexuality. Shaw created characters filled with intellect and passion, showing that the characters were innately intimate and that sexuality, through intimacy, should be embraced by society rather than feared. Carpenter argues that at the turn of the 20th century, Shaw suggested that the Puritan ideals of Victorian society had perpetrated the British stage, placing playwrights in a delicate position. Carpenter’s articles focuses specifically on the t...


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Shaw, Bernard. Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy. Ed. Dan H. Laurence.
Introduction by Stanley Weintraub. London, England: Penguin Books, 2000. 41-209. Print
Sterner, Mark H. "Shaw's Superwoman and the Borders of Feminism: One Step Over the
Line?" Shaw 18, Penn State UP (1998): 147-60. JSTOR. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.
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