Discuss GB Shaw’s idea of love and marriage in You Never Can Tell

Question: GB Shaw’s idea of love and marriage


G. B. Shaw is an acclaimed literary figure who is as prominent as Shakespeare. His central vision is to represent the baffling problems of society. The term ‘Love and marriage’ is one of such problems that destroys the social, familial, and personal life due to unbalanced relationships. In the play “You Can Never Tell”, G. B. Shaw’s treatment of love and marriage is traditional and realistic.

Conflict of familial life

In the play “You Never Can Tell”, G.B Shaw indicates a conflict between two sorts of family life. One is based on mutual respect and the other is dominated by husbands. When Mrs. Clandon’s Children want to know who their father is, she tells them about the ideals of family life.

Family is based on mutual understanding

Among two sorts of family life, a mutual understanding based on the family is one. Mrs. Clandon stands for this kind of family. In this kind of family, every member of the family can enjoy his/her rights to independence and privacy. Mrs. Clandon claims that her children grow up with mutual understanding based on family. In the play, Mrs. Clandon and Mr. Crampton are separated for a lack of mutual respect for understanding.

Male-dominated family

Mr. Crampton stands for this second sort. In the second kind of family life, the husband becomes a domestic tyrant who denies his wife and children their rights. He is suspicious of his wife and wants the privacy of his wife and does not give her freedom which means the second sort of family is male-dominated family life.

More Notes: Modern Drama

Practical experience of life

Mrs. Clandon thinks that she teaches her children her own ideas but she fails to teach them proper manners because her daughter, Gloria disobeys his talk and loves Valentine. When their father meets them, they treat him as a stranger. He speaks Gloria, he expects his children “Duty, affection, respect, obedience!” Then she replied:

“I obey nothing but my sense of what is right. I respect nothing that is not noble. That is my duty. …………………quite know what affection means.”

However, after a long gap of eighteen years when Mrs. Clandon meets her husband, her character begins to change. Now she wants feelings from her husband. On the other hand, Mr. Crampton has passed through a process of moral regeneration after his separation from his wife and children. So, at last, they get reconciled. Through their reconciliation, Shaw highlights that family life should not be dissolved and it must be based on wisdom and understanding, not emotion.

Anti-romantic expression of love

When Gloria learns that Valentine has already proposed to several women, she asks him directly and Valentine without any hesitation confesses that he has already proposed to several women. But it is the natural instinct of a man to propose to women for the purpose of finding out true partners. Now, he has got his perfect match that is why he does not anymore to propose anyone. But Gloria is not convinced. But Valentine explains when he saw Gloria, he felt that oxygen was running in his blood. Gloria also admits that she also felt so.

The Chemist of Love

When Gloria wants an explanation of man-woman attraction for each other, Valentine describes it in terms of chemistry. Valentine also illustrates that their relationship is like a chemical reaction. In a chemical reaction, a new is always produced by mixing at least two elements. Likewise, the relationship between man and woman is prolific because a new human comes to this world through such a relationship.

Valentine’s love expression

Valentine told Gloria that his attack on the conflict of love is not conventional. He does not kneel in front of her. She doesn’t worship and adore her like a romantic lover. Instead, he hugs her tightly and kisses on her lips. Here, he applies his new method to overcome all the resistance of new women. His work is more direct and realistic and so he easily wins Gloria’s heart.


To sum up, we can assert that the most acute genetical fact of human beings is love and marriage. It cannot be prevented by any ideology. Rather it is our duty to teach how to preserve this fundamental fact for building up a peaceful life.

SR Sarker
SR Sarker
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