Realism in Arms and the Man

1527 Words May 27th, 2013 7 Pages
Realism was a general movement in 19th-century theatre that developed a set of dramatic and theatrical conventions with the aim of bringing a greater fidelity of real life to texts and performances. It shared many stylistic choices with naturalism, including a focus on everyday (middle-class) drama, colloquial speech, and mundane settings. Realism and naturalism diverge chiefly on the degree of choice that characters have: while naturalism believes in the overall strength of external forces over internal decisions, realism asserts the power of the individual to choose (see A Doll's House).
Russia's first professional playwright, Aleksey Pisemsky, and Leo Tolstoy (The Power of Darkness (1886)), began a tradition of psychological realism in
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But while Pinero is sharply condemning the immorality of his female protagonist, Shaw does away with traditional moral interpretations and concentrates on the social implications of prostitution. To the convinced socialist Shaw, prostitution is no longer a sign of moral corruption but a social evil which is caused by poverty and material need. This means that prostitution for him is a symptom of the exploitation of people in a capitalist society, and not the individual but society itself is to be held guilty. To quote Mrs Warren: “If people arrange the world that way for women, there is no good pretending it’s arranged the other way. No: I never was a bit ashamed really. I consider I had a right to be proud of how we managed everything so respectably, and never had a word against us, and how the girls were so well taken care of. Some of them did very well: one of them married an ambassador.” Her attitude, therefore, is clearly differing from the hypocritical pseudo-morality which, according to Shaw, characterizes the theatre of his time.
For Shaw, socialism is important because it is a necessary precondition for the formation of what he calls ‘the superman’. This is where the more speculative and not so easily understandable part of Shaw’s ‘Weltanschauung’ begins. At the centre of it is the concept of life force which, according to Shaw, is the driving principle, the propelling force behind what we call reality. Schopenhauer’s concept of the ‘will’,
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