Discuss Art of Characterization of GB Shaw

Art of Characterization of GB Shaw


George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) is one of the chief exposers or exponents of the mind of man in English literature. He has cared little for describing the physical appearances of the characters. He has sketched the appearance of the soul of human beings in his play “You Never Can Tell”. Through the characters, he satirizes Victorian modern feminists, conjugal life, and society.

The psychological study of Shaw’s characters

Before starting ingoing discourse on the psychological study of Shaw’s characters, one must know about the source of Shaw’s characters and his chief interest.

The vast variety of characters

Shaw’s characters belong to different classes and ages. He picks up his characters from waiter to barrister. From his characters, we get a vivid insight into the cold, arrogant, possessive, and callous minds of upper-class dudes. Walter Boon and Walter Bohun are the specimens of such character.

More Notes: Modern Drama

Byronic hero

In his play, Shaw displays a Byronic hero through the character of Valentine. The Byronic Hero is a special type of hero, created by an English Romantic poet Lord Byron, whose character depends on faults. There are some features of Byronic Hero such as tall and handsome, educated, adventurous, womanizer, these features are represented in the character of Valentine. He proposes to many women before seeing Gloria. Mrs. Clandon tries to dissuade Gloria from falling in love with Valentine.

“How many times he has laid the trap in which he has caught you; how often he has baited it with the same speeches; how much practice it has taken to make him perfect in his chosen part in life as the Duelist of Sex.”

Humorous character

Shaw creates a humorous character in his play through the character of Walter Boon who is the wise fool of this play. Professionally, he is the waiter at the Marine Hotel and he is probably the most level, rational, and understanding of the entire play. Shaw expresses Walter Boon as a philosopher. Walter Boon delivers the message of the play. He tells Mr. Crampton about the mystery of life.

“It’s the unexpected that always happens, isn’t it? You never can tell, sir: you never can tell.”


Adventurous mentality is one of the features of Byronic Hero. Shaw reveals this feature in the character of Valentine. He is a struggling dentist who has set up recently in the seaside town, after having failed as a respectable medical practitioner in various parts of England. But he is a man of conscience and for this, he told the patient the brute truth about them instead of what they wanted to be told. In this respect, he is an image of his creator, Shaw and as he says, “this outspokenness of nature spelt his ruin in the past”.

Stereotypical feminist

Shaw satirizes the stereotypical feminist in the play. Mrs. Clandon is a feminist who wants freedom and privacy from her husband. Mrs. Clandon separated herself and her children from her husband, Mr. Crampton whom she considers a domestic tyrant. That is why she changes her family title and teaches her children her own ideas and morality. She teaches her children about her own morality and ideas. But she fails because her daughter, Gloria disobeys her ideal and falls in love with Valentine.

The presence of all professions

In the play, Shaw presents many professions. At beginning of the play, we notice that Valentine is a dentist. At the Marine Hotel, Walter Boon is professionally a waiter but his son Walter Bohun is a barrister. Thus, Shaw represents professions.


  1. Mingled Characters:
  2. Reserved mind
  3. Abnormal mentality
  4. Sympathy etc.


In termination, Shaw’s character-analysis can be compared to Shakespeare who belongs to all ages of English literature. Shaw like Shakespeare has been able to visualize before us a clear picture of human beings.

SR Sarker
SR Sarker
Articles: 380

Leave a Reply

error: Sorry !!