Heartbreak House- Ap English Assignment

Topics: George Bernard Shaw, World War I, World War II Pages: 4 (1362 words) Published: April 2, 2013
Heartbreak House became George Bernard Shaw’s voice in the First World War and the circumstances leading up to it. His preface offers readers an insightful investigation in the socio-economic shifts, the mentality of the population in different strata of society, and ruling body’s shortcomings in dealing with this evolving population and its needs. The play fills the molds of Shaw’s analytical framework by giving his readers a witty exemplar of the changes in European society and conditions that harbored the War. Shaw created this image of the Heartbreak House which was an aberration from any normal social setting of the time. As Mr. Dunn points out at the end of the play, “Where else could I feel perfectly at ease in my pyjamas? I sometimes dream that I am in very distinguished society, and suddenly I have nothing on but my pyjamas! ... And I always feel overwhelmed with confusion. But here, I don’t mind in the least: it seems quite natural. (III)” Even more powerfully, Mangan states in Act III that the house has caused them to strip “ourselves morally naked.” Shaw is able to set characters representing all parts of society in one house where candidness is the main policy. Analyzing the characters, the roles of protagonist and antagonist are not clear. Assigning such roles would be showing preference of one life lifestyle over another. Captain Shotover is regarded as a senile member of the household and was once the head of the family. He belongs to the class of people which Shaw describes as those in the “continual struggle of the human machine to maintain its environment in a favourable condition, a process incidentally involving the ruthless destruction or subjection of its competitors for the supply (assumed to be limited) of subsistence available. (pg. 13)” Shaw continues to say that after having taught Prussia “this religion,” the end result was “each destroying the other to an extent doubtfully reparable in our time.” Captain Shotover’s occupation and...
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