By Richard Burton
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Extra info for Bernard Shaw, The Man and the Mask
There is thinking enough, and un pleasantness enough in life," a wail that rivals in hoary antiquity that other pathetic protest of the Philistine, " I know what I l ike ! " Shaw be gan play-writing confronted by the historical attitude which declares that the playhouse is a secular indulgence ; it belongs to a Saturday afternoon, and Sunday is j ust ahead when we can put on sober clothes of repentance, purge, leave sack, and live cleanly. And he met it by suf ficiently hiding his seriousness within a frame work of interesting fable and then so spicing his 36 B E RNARD SHAW sermon with condiments of wit and s atire and comic scene and character, that the pleasure of the playhouse was preserved even for the light minded, and the mourners became like unto those who rej oice.
If there be fallacy in this, i t is to be found in overlooking two classes of women : those who prefer vice for its own s ake ; and those incapable of earning an honest wage. In Bernard Shaw's schemes for social better ment in general, there is always the faith in the natural good of human beings : the assumption that if given a chance, they will rise to it. honors the thinker's generous One interpretation, ,/ BE RNARD SHAW 56 even if doubtfully querying whether he do not place human n ature too high.
It is safe to say that no such dialogue had ap peared in the English theatre since Congreve. For its earnest, satiric purpose, with the relief of scintillant wit and atmospheric humor, it is unsurpassed. The frequent statement that all Shaw's stage folk talk Shavian language is flatly contradicted by a delightful comic personage like Lickcheese, whose name, by the way, sug gests that when the author began dramatic writ ing, he was willing to do what later he would have eschewed : place des criptive type names upon his stage creatures.