The Devil’s Disciple | Questions and Answers

The Devil's Disciple | Questions and Answers

The Devil’s Disciple by George Bernard Shaw

  1. Who is George Bernard Shaw?

George Bernard Shaw was born in Synge Street, Dublin in 1856 to George Carr Shaw (1814–1885), whose father was Bernard Shaw, an unsuccessful grain merchant and sometime civil servant. Shaw’s plays were first performed in the 1890s. By the end of the decade he was an established playwright. He wrote sixty-three plays and his output as novelist, critic, pamphleteer, essayist and private correspondent was prodigious. He is known to have written more than 250,000 letters. Along with Fabian Society members Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb and Graham Wallas, Shaw founded the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1895 with funding provided by private philanthropy, including a bequest of £20,000 from Henry Hunt Hutchinson to the Fabian Society. One of the libraries at the LSE is named in Shaw’s honor; it contains collections of his papers and photographs. During his final years, Shaw enjoyed attending to the grounds at Shaw’s Corner. His death, at 94, from renal failure, was precipitated by injuries incurred by falling while pruning a tree. His ashes, mixed with those of his wife, were scattered along footpaths and around the statue of Saint Joan in their garden.

  1. What is the story of The Devil’s Disciple?

The Devil’s Disciple is a 1897 melodrama is written by Irish dramatist, George Bernard Shaw. Set in Colonial America. during the Revolutionary era, the melodrama, is not without humor, particularly in the character of General Burgoyne. The play is Shaw’s eighth play. Like several of Shaw’s early plays, The Devil’s Disciple first produced in 1897 and published collection. Three Plays for Puritans in 1901 takes an existing popular theatrical form, in this case melodrama, and adapts it to serve Shaw’s dramatic purposes. It tells story of Richard Dudgeon, a fictional American hero. The main character of the Devil’s Disciple, Dick Dudgeon, is in revolt against the ideal the family to the extent that he has rejected his own family. Identifying with the devil has prevented his spirit being taken over by his mother’s life-denying religion. In the preface Shaw claims that it is the failure of marriage or the family that creates the idealization of them because idealists refuse to accept the reality of that failure and substitute ideals in place of the reality.

3. What is melodrama?

Ans. The theatrical genre of Melodrama utilizes theme, music to manipulate the spectator’s emotional response and to denote character types. The term combines “melody” (from the Greek “melõidía”, meaning “song” and “drama”(Classical Greek: Spána, dráma; meaning “action”). While the use of music is nearly ubiquitous in modern film, in a melodrama these musical cues will be used within a fairly rigid structure, and the characterizations will accordingly be somewhat more one dimensional: Heroes will be unambiguously good and their entrance will be heralded by heroic-sounding trumpets and martial music; villains are unambiguously bad, and their entrance is greeted with dark-sounding, ominous chords.

Melodramas tend to be formulaic productions, with a clearly constructed world of connotations: a villain poses a threat, the hero escapes the threat (or rescues the heroine) and there is (generally) a happy ending. However, the term is also used in a broader sense to refer to a play, film or other work in which emotion is exaggerated and plot and action are emphasized in comparison to the more character-driven emphasis within a drama. Melodramas can also be distinguished from tragedy by the fact that they are open to having a happy ending, but this is not always the case.

  1. What is American Revolution War?

The American Revolution refers to the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which the Thirteen Colonies of North America overthrew the governance of the British Empire and then rejected the British monarchy to become the sovereign United States of America. In this period the colonies first rejected the authority of the Parliament of Great Britain to govern them without representation, and formed self-governing independent states. These states then joined against the British to defend that self-governance in the armed conflict from 1775 to 1783 known as the American Revolutionary War (also: American War of Independence). This resulted in the independent states uniting to form one nation, breaking away from the empire in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence, rejecting not only the governance of Parliament, but also now the legitimacy of the monarchy to demand allegiance. After seven years of war came effective American victory on the battlefield in October 1781, with British recognition of the United States’ independence and sovereignty in 1783.

  1. Describe Bernard Shaw’s criticism?

Shaw became a critic of the arts when, sponsored by William Archer, he joined the reviewing staff of the Pall Mall Gazetter in 1885. From 1895 to 1898, Shaw was the drama critic for Frank Harris’ Saturday Review, in which position he campaigned brilliantly to displace the artificialities and hypocrisies of the Victorian stage with a theater of actuality and thought. Shaw’s writings about music gained great popularity because they were understandable and fair, as well as pleasantly light-hearted and free of affectation, thus contrasting starkly with the dourly pretentious pedantry of most critiques in that era. All of his music critiques have been collected in Shaw’s Music.

  1. Describe the language and style of the play?

The play is written in such a manner as to more or less give the impression that each character has his own speech to make. The language therefore is sometimes quite elaborate and sententious. What is also remarkable is Shaw’s inexhaustible wit, the way in which he mixes irony, sarcasm and absurdity into a juicy piece of dialogue. It was one of Shaw’s constants concerns, the simplification of spelling to such words as: don’t, can’t, hadnt, wont, youre, theyre, theyve, theyll, thats, theres, dunno (ie. “don’t know”).

  1. Discuss Shaw’s characterization in The Devil’s Disciple?

The so-called ‘melodrama’ is a very subtle combination of romantic scenes viewed from a completely unromantic perspective and of gradually accumulation tension. The center of these swirls is Richard Dudgeon, the rejected eldest son of the recently widowed Mrs. Dudgeon. He has offered his life to the devil out of a very powerful need to oppose the hypocrisy and false dignity of his puritanical family. Dick is a rebel and this is what brings about the clash of egos mentioned before. For Dick’s ‘glory’ as a rebel is displayed at the level of discourse. His humorous and gradually sarcastic remarks are every time a delight for readers. He seems to possess the art of turning any absurdity into a laughing stock.

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But Dick Dudgeon is not only an outcast, a terrible nonconformist. He eventually proves to be a far better Christian that anyone else in his family, and he even surpasses minister Anderson when it comes to endangering his life in order to save the minister’s. He is honest in everything he does starting with his rebellion and up to the confession that he makes to Judith when she visits him in prison and desperately wants to know why he pretended he was her husband.

The noble human capacity of doing good is unspoiled in him. He is the only one to regard Essie as a fellow human being, not to speak of his readiness to sacrifice his life for the mere reason that another man’s life is worthier that his own.

In the end, Richard’s idealism proves not to have harmed anybody. He is rescued by Anthony Anderson just two minutes before his execution and this puts an end to British dominion as well.

  1. Who is Richard Dudgeon?

Richard Dudgeon is a young man of unconventional views. The charismatic Richard Dudgeon dominates act 1. He displays considerable charm as Richard, a smuggler who lives with Gypsies and is branded as “wicked, dissolute, and godless.” He is presented before us a Devil’s Disciple but as we go through the story he becomes a true heroic figure who does not care about his life and very bravely gets ready to sacrifice his life.

  1. Who is Judith?

Judith Anderson is the second wife of Minister Anthony Anderson and may be call the heroine of the play s is pretty and beautiful with good manners and etiquettes. She is a scary woman. She is scared of soldiers, army and Richard Dudgeon. At the beginning of the play we find her hating and horrified with Richard. But in Act II this hatred changes in liking for him. She tries to save his life but fail to do so.

  1. Which are the two ideals Shaw has attacked in the Play?

Two of the ideals that Shaw sets out to attack in this play are the ideal of the family and the ideal of marriage. The main character of The Devil’s Disciple, Dick Dudgeon, is in revolt against the ideal of the family to the extent that he has rejected his own family. Identifying with the devil has prevented his ‘spirit being taken over by his mother’s life denying religion. In the preface Shaw claims that it is the “failure of marriage or the family that creates the idealization of them because idealists refuse to accept the reality of that failure and substitute ideals in place of the reality. Mrs. Duageon is an idealist of this type, a person for whom marriage and the family have failed but who endeavours to hide this fact by turning them into ideals. She refused to marry the man she loved. Dick’s uncle Peter, because he was irreligious and instead married a man she didn’t love because he was god-fearing, but she refuses to recognize that this act destroyed any chance of a happy marriage and family life and condemn Peter and her son for their refusal to conform.


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