Study Questions and Essay Topics
Undershaft identifies "money and gunpowder" as necessary to salvation. What does he mean?
What is the significance of the name of Undershaft's partner, Lazarus?
At the end of the play, Barbara tells Cusins that she has no social class. What does she mean?
Suggested Essay Topics
Consider Cusins's possession by the spirit of Dionysus-Undershaft in Act II. What is the "ecstasy of mischief" to which he refers? Why does it consume him?
Consider the use of dialect in the scenes at the Salvation Army shelter. How is dialect related to the play's class dynamics?
Discuss Shaw's character portraits in the stage notes. Consider in particular their tone and use of paradox. You may want to choose two or three characters for comparison.
Discuss the setting of Perivale St. Andrew. Consider the use of space, the props, the set itself, choreography in this space, and onward.
Analyze the use of music and musical instruments in the play. Situate your example within the play's plot structure. Possible topics of discussion include Cusins' drum, the march from the shelter, or Lomax's concertina.
Early in the play, Undershaft declares that the Salvation Army's motto—"Blood and Fire"—could as easily serve as his own. How so? How might his use of the motto differ from the Army's? Also consider the ways in which Undershaft considers the Army's work as being in harmony with his interests.
Consider the subplot involving Undershaft, Lady Britomart, and Stephen? Why does Undershaft insist that his heir must be a foundling? Why does Lady Britomart protest her son's dispossession? How does Stephen respond?
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