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George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) is revered as one of the great British dramatists, credited not only with memorable works, but the revival of the then-suffering English theatre. Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland, left mostly to his own devices after his mother ran off to London to pursue a musical career. He educated himself for the most part, and eventually worked for a real estate agent. This experience founded in him a concern for social injustices, seeing poverty and general unfairness afoot, and would go on to address this in many of his works. In 1876, Shaw joined his mother in London where he would finally attain literary success. First performed in 1892, "Widower's Houses" was the first of Shaw's plays to see the stage. This play was included in a collection of plays called "Plays Unpleasant," named so because Shaw's intention in writing them was not to entertain, but to raise awareness in certain areas of social concern. The source of social concern here in this play is the income derived from slum housing and the play focuses on the rift it forms between the two main characters, Henry Trench who has a moral problem with the way the father of his wife earns his money and his wife, Blanch who has no problem taking money from her father.
With Plays Unpleasant, Shaw issued a radical challenge to his audiences' complacency and exposed social evils through his dramatization of the moral conflicts between youthful idealism and economic reality, promiscuity and marriage, and the duties of women to others and to themselves. His first play, Widowers' Houses, depicts Harry Trench's dilemma on learning that the inheritance of his fiancée comes from her father's income as a slum landlord. In The Philanderer, charismatic Leonard Charteris proposes marriage to Grace, while he is still involved with the beautiful Julia Craven - who is not inclined to give him up so easily. And in Mrs Warren's Profession, Vivie Warren is forced to reconsider her own future when she discovers that her mother's immoral earnings funded her genteel upbringing.

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