George Bernard Shaw 's Major Barbara Essay

George Bernard Shaw 's Major Barbara Essay

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George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara stands as a response to some of the different aspects of Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto. Shaw’s drama includes a deal made by Andrew Undershaft and his daughter, Barbara, to see which of their professions do the most good for society; a munitions factory or the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army and its outreach programs can be criticized for being socialist, utopian, and unreasonable, etc., but overall, their main goal is to save souls through the expansion of Christian religion. On the other hand, before her visit to her father’s factory, Barbara expects to see a number of sad, poor, overworked workers living and working in terrible dystopian conditions, but upon her arrival, she learned that she would be very incorrect in her prior thinking. The factory that Andrew Undershaft has established is exactly the opposite; rather it seems to be a worker’s paradise, or even a socialist utopia. The description provided of Barbara’s workplace and Andrew Undershaft’s factory stand as a response to the ideas of Marx, and stand to critique of both the bad and the good.
Marx formulated and expressed many ideas and theories for political and social structure, and collected them in his work, The Communist Manifesto. At one point in the Manifesto, Marx names and describes the various types of Socialism, and ends up listing one that sounds very similar to the socialist utopia present in Andrew Undershaft’s factory. Critical Utopian Socialism shares great similarities in its core values with the society existing within the factory. To begin, “In the formation of their plans they are conscious of caring chiefly for the interests of the working class, as being the most suffering class” (The Communist Manif...


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...on Army, which seems to have very lofty goals of saving souls and converting the least fortunate individuals to Christianity, is a socialist program that is portrayed in a more negative light. On the other hand, the munitions factory was established to follow the ideas of Utopian Socialism, and contains many resources for its employees to access if they would so desire, thus helping increase morale of everyone in the society, even the working class. Because the entirety of the story is based around the deal made between father and daughter to see which one of them did the most good for society, it was important to depict one venue as obviously doing good for society- the Salvation Army, and one which would be less obvious- the Undershaft munitions factory. In the end, the reader finds out that both of the venues actually do a lot of good for society in their own way.

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