George Bernard Shaw's Quotes

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The following is a list of quotes by George Bernard Shaw. Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950) was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist.


Quotes


Mrs. Warren's Profession[1]


Every man and woman present will know that as long as poverty makes virtue hideous and the spare pocket-money of rich bachelordom makes vice dazzling, their daily hand-to-hand fight against prostitution with prayer and persuasion, shelters and scanty alms, will be a losing one.

  • THE AUTHOR’S APOLOGY


I am convinced that fine art is the subtlest, the most seductive, the most effective instrument of moral propaganda in the world, excepting only the example of personal conduct; and I waive even this exception in favor of the art of the stage, because it works by exhibiting examples of personal conduct made intelligible and moving to crowds of unobservant, unreflecting people to whom real life means nothing. I have pointed out again and again that the influence of the theatre in England is growing so great that whilst private conduct, religion, law, science, politics, and morals are becoming more and more theatrical, the theatre itself remains impervious to common sense, religion, science, politics, and morals. That is why I fight the theatre, not with pamphlets and sermons and treatises, but with plays; and so effective do I find the dramatic method that I have no doubt I shall at last persuade even London to take its conscience and its brains with it when it goes to the theatre, instead of leaving them at home with its prayer-book as it does at present. Consequently, I am the last man in the world to deny that if the net effect of performing Mrs Warren’s Profession were an increase in the number of persons entering that profession, its performance should be dealt with accordingly.

  • THE AUTHOR’S APOLOGY


If society chooses to provide for its Irises better than for its working women, it must not expect honest playwrights to manufacture spurious evidence to save its credit.

  • THE AUTHOR’S APOLOGY


Each nation has its own particular set of tapus in addition to the common human stock; and though each of these tapus limits the scope of the dramatist, it does not make drama impossible. If the Examiner were to refuse to license plays with female characters in them, he would only be doing to the stage what our tribal customs already do to the pulpit and the bar.

  • THE AUTHOR’S APOLOGY


All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current concepts, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships. There is the whole case against censorships in a nutshell.

  • THE AUTHOR’S APOLOGY


The drama can do little to delight the senses: all the apparent instances to the contrary are instances of the personal fascination of the performers. The drama of pure feeling is no longer in the hands of the playwright: it has been conquered by the musician, after whose enchantments all the verbal arts seem cold and tame.

  • THE AUTHOR’S APOLOGY


Indeed, it needed no Wagner to convince the public of this. The voluptuous sentimentality of Gounod’s Faust and Bizet’s Carmen has captured the common playgoer; and there is, flatly, no future now for any drama without music except the drama of thought.

  • THE AUTHOR’S APOLOGY


When the intellectual muscle and moral nerve of the critics has been developed in the struggle with modern problem plays, the pettish luxuriousness of the clever ones, and the sulky sense of disadvantaged weakness in the sentimental ones, will clear away; and it will be seen that only in the problem play is there any real drama, because drama is no mere setting up of the camera to nature: it is the presentation in parable of the conflict between Man’s will and his environment: in a word, of problem.

  • THE AUTHOR’S APOLOGY


The man who cannot see that starvation, overwork, dirt, and disease are as anti-social as prostitution—that they are the vices and crimes of a nation, and not merely its misfortunes—is (to put it as politely as possible) a hopelessly Private Person.

  • THE AUTHOR’S APOLOGY


A man’s profession only enters into the drama of his life when it comes into conflict with his nature.

  • THE AUTHOR’S APOLOGY


I have seen an Oxford agricultural laborer’s wife looking cheerful on eight shillings a week; but that does not console me for the fact that agriculture in England is a ruined industry. If poverty does not matter as long as it is contented, then crime does not matter as long as it is unscrupulous. The truth is that it is only then that it does matter most desperately. Many persons are more comfortable when they are dirty than when they are clean; but that does not recommend dirt as a national policy.

  • THE AUTHOR’S APOLOGY


Arms and the Man[1]

Do you like gratitude? I don't. If pity is akin to love, gratitude is akin to the other thing.

  • Captain Bluntschli, Act III




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