Man and Superman



  • George Bernard Shaw's comedy about the battle of thesexes. Written between 1901 and 1903, it was first performed at London'sRoyal Court Theatre in 1905. The play, a paradoxical reworking ofthe Don Juan theme, was a vehicle for Shaw's notion of a'Life Force' and for his view that in sexual matters women are thehunters and men the hunted.

    The play introduces the rich socialist Jack Tanner, whoseward, Ann Whitfield, has made up her mind to marry him. Frightenedby her predatory guile, Jack flees to Spain, where he is capturedby philosophical brigands. After awakening from a long dream he isrescued by Ann and her friends, who have pursued him from England.Although he continues to resist Ann's advances, he finally submitsto her vitality, claiming that he has been vanquished by the 'LifeForce'.

    The dream fantasy 'Don Juan in Hell', which occupies the wholeof Act Three, is often omitted or performed separately. In it, Jack'sspiritual ancestor, Don Juan, joins the Devil and others in metaphysicalspeculations about life, death, and evolution. Don Juan maintainsthat man's self-consciousness is the glory of the 'Life Force' andfinally resolves to leave the empty pleasures of hell for a dullerbut more satisfying existence in heaven.