By Margot Morgan (auth.)
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Extra info for Politics and Theatre in Twentieth-Century Europe: Imagination and Resistance
In Part 1: In the Beginning, Shaw’s George Bernard Shaw ● 41 story of human creation, it is Lilith, not God, who creates Adam and Eve. Lilith imbues Eve with the greatest gift—curiosity—and the snake that comes to Eve in the garden provides her with the secrets of progress and advancement. Having become aware of death on their own, Adam and Eve learn from the serpent that death can be overcome by the production of new life. Procreation will free Adam and Eve from the constant toil of working the fields and protecting themselves from harm.
Perhaps some of his intellectual friends were swayed by his logical argumentation, but for the rest of the population, there was another truth: Humans do not choose to die for things they understand, but rather for things they love. There was no love—no place for affect at all—in Shaw’s religion of metaphysical biology. It was a religion suited to an ever-decreasing number of intellectuals who could afford the luxury of science. ” 75 It is shocking that a man who bore witness to both world wars, the holocaust, and Stalin’s acts of genocide could become even more confident over time in his scientific religion as revealing the path to enlightenment for the twentieth century.
The effect produced by this ending is magnified by the fact that Vivie refuses the proposal of the handsome aristocrat, Frank. ”29 Vivie breaks from her family to pursue her own life as a career woman. There is no happy ending to be had here, at least in the traditional sense. The sobering ending leaves each character to his or her own sorrows, though it can be said that it also leaves them as autonomous, self-aware individuals who govern their own lives. However philosophically interesting that perspective may be, theatrically the lack of kisses and tears was most unsettling to a nineteenth-century audience.