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DescriptionThe second of Shaw's "unpleasant" plays, written in 1893, published in 1898, but not performed until 1905, The Philanderer is subtitled "A Topical Comedy." The eclectic range of topical subjects addressed in the play includes the influence of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen on British middle-class social mores (the second act of The Philanderer is set in the fictional Ibsen Club), medical follies, the rise of the "New Woman," and, in particular, the destructive impact of Victorian marriage and divorce laws. Just as Shaw's other "unpleasant" plays, Widowers' Houses and Mrs Warren's Profession , call, respectively, for reform of laws that allow corrupt property owners to exploit the poor and for radical change to economic structures that drive women into prostitution, so The Philanderer makes the case for more liberal legislation to allow easier divorce-particularly for women-when marriages become irretrievably broken.
Shaw's attack on divorce laws becomes even clearer and stronger in the final act that he wrote for the play but discarded in favour of the version he published. The discarded version is published for the first time in this Broadview edition of the play.
Broadview Press Ltd
30 June 2015
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