Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home
The Marriage of Contraries

The Marriage of Contraries

Bernard Shaw’s Middle Plays

J. L. Wisenthal

ISBN 9780674550858

Publication date: 01/01/1974

This reading of Bernard Shaw focuses on his habit of seeing the world in terms of contraries, a habit related to his basic rejection of absolutes, his distaste for finality. The author examines nine of Shaw's finest plays: Man and Superman, Major Barbara, John Bull's Other Island, The Doctor's Dilemma, Pygmalion, Misalliance, Heartbreak House, Saint Joan, and Back to Methuselah. The book takes seriously Shaw's claim that all of his characters are “right from their several points of view.” We are compelled to respect the qualities and values of opposing and very different characters in these plays, and we also have a sense of their complementary defects. J. L. Wisenthal's commentary sheds light on Shaw's techniques of portrayal as well as his dialectical habit of mind. This finely written essay is for all lovers of Shaw and the theater.


  • Books on Bernard Shaw proliferate, but not new perspectives on Shaw. The refreshing thing about Mr. Wisenthal’s criticism is that he does provide a useful new lens through which to view Shavian drama. The Marriage of Contraries should prove to be one of the few essential recent books on G.B.S.

    —Stanley Weintraub

Book Details

  • 288 pages
  • Harvard University Press