Man And Superman Summary

George Bernard Shaw

Man And Superman

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Man And Superman Summary

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Man and Superman is a four-act drama written by George Bernard Shaw in 1903. In Man and Superman, Shaw portrays a conventional courtship from a nonconventional perspective (for the time period). In more traditional stories of the time, the woman would be pursued, perhaps hunted, so to speak, and would submit to the man. In this play, a man is hunted by a very relentless woman.

Ann Whitefield is one of the main charters. Shaw believed that normally women like Ann Whitefield pursue their intended husbands with such persistence, and yet with soft subtlety, that they lead the men to think that they themselves are the pursuers.

The plot consists of two storylines. The first is the courtship of John Tanner and Ann Whitefield. John Tanner is a progressive thinker, and he is opposed to all things associated with tradition or convention. At the start of the story, Mr. Whitefield, Ann’s father, has recently died, and his will indicates that his daughter, Ann, should be left in the care of two men, Roebuck Ramsden and John Tanner. As a result, both men are co-guardians of Ann Whitefield. Ramsden is the complete opposite of Tanner. Ramsden is established and conventional to the core, even though he calls himself a progressive person. Ramsden, an older man, does not trust Tanner, his youth, or his discretion. Even though Ramsden shares feelings of distrust with Ann, she wants Tanner to remain as her co-guardian.

Finally, both Tanner and Ramsden appeal to Ann, asking her to select one of them as her guardian to fulfill her father’s wishes, but she refuses to make a choice. Using the pretense of “respecting her father’s last wishes,” she humbly and intelligently says she would like both of the men to remain in their joint capacity as her guardians. In reality, however, she is simply setting her cunning trap for Tanner because she desires him.

Secondary to this developing plot is the story of Violet Robinson and Hector Malone. Violet is the sister of Octavius Robinson, a poet who is hopelessly in love with Ann Whitefield. Violet initially announces that she is pregnant; then she announces that she is married, but she refuses to name her husband. Later, it becomes obvious (only to the audience) that Violet’s husband is actually a wealthy American named Hector Malone. The issue is that Hector Malone’s father wishes him to marry a girl from a well to do and very successful family, but Violet is not from this type of upscale family. As a result, Violet persuades Hector to keep their marriage a secret so he will not lose his wealth because he did not marry the type of woman his father wanted him to marry.

In Act III, John Tanner flees his predicament (Ann’s pursuit of him) by traveling to Europe. There,