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Encyclopedia > The Devil's Disciple

The Devil's Disciple is the only full-length play by G. Bernard Shaw set in America. It's a melodrama, though not without humor, particularly in the character of General Burgoyne. The play is important in Shaw's career in that, though it was the eighth play he wrote, it was the first--due to Richard Mansfield's original 1897 production in America--that was financially successful, helping to assure his career as a playwright. The play is set during the Revolutionary War and is the fictional story of Richard Dudgeon, an American hero. It was published in Shaw's 1901 collection Three Plays for Puritans (together with Captain Brassbound's Conversion and Caesar and Cleopatra). A film version was made in 1959. George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856–2 November 1950) was an Irish dramatist, literary critic, and socialist. ... Motto: (Out Of Many, One) (traditional) In God We Trust (1956 to date) Anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner Capital Washington D.C. Largest city New York City None at federal level (English de facto) Government Federal constitutional republic  - President George Walker Bush (R)  - Vice President Dick Cheney (R) Independence from... Mansfield was well known as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. ... John Trumbulls Declaration of Independence, showing the five-man committee in charge of drafting the Declaration in 1776 as it presents its work to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia The American Revolution refers to the period during the last half of the 18th century in which the Thirteen... Year 1901 (MCMI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Monday [1] of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... Captain Brassbounds Conversion (1900) is a play by George Bernard Shaw. ... Caesar and Cleopatra is a 1901 play by George Bernard Shaw. ...


Dudgeon is secretly a rebel, and is considered by his family and friends to be the "Devil's disciple" because of his rebellious personality and unfaithfulness to religion. The main reason why he has turned so "devilish" is because of his rude and inconsiderate mother's rigid piety, which has deterred Dudgeon from following in her footsteps. In Act I, however, Dick returns home upon the death of his father to hear the reading of the will. His wickedness appalls Judith, the wife of the town's minister, Anthony Anderson.

In Act II, Richard is in fact the hero. While visiting Anderson's home, Dick is left alone with Judith while Anderson is called out to Mrs. Dudgeon's deathbed. Neither Dick nor Judith finds the tête-a-tête comfortable, but when British soldiers enter and arrest Dick, mistaking him for Anderson, Dick allows them to take him away, knowing that they will hang him. He swears Judith to secrecy lest her husband give the secret away. But when Anderson hears what has happened, he seems to turn into a different man: calling for money and a gun, he rides away. Judith believes her husband to be a coward, while Dick, whom she despised, is a hero.

In Act III, Judith visits Dick and asks him if he has acted from love. He gently explains that he does not love her, but has acted out of an unexpected decency. During the military trial, Dick is convicted and sentenced to be hanged. This scene introduces General Burgoyne, a Shavian realist, who contributes a number of sharp remarks about the conduct of the American Revolution. Judith interrupts the proceedings to reveal Dick's true identity--but to no avail: he will be hanged in any case. News reaches Burgoyne that American rebels have taken a nearby town, so he and his troops are in danger. The rebels will send a man to negotiate with the British. The final scene of the play is the public square where Dick will be hanged. Like Sidney Carton in Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, Dick prepares to meet his death. At the last minute, Burgoyne stops the hanging because the rebel has arrived. It is Anthony Anderson, who has become a man of action in an instant, just as Dick became a man of conscience in an instant. Anderson bargains for Dick's life, and Burgoyne, who has just learned that reinforcements that he had expected will not arrive, agrees to free him. As the Americans rejoice, the British go away, knowing that they face certain defeat. John Burgoyne General John Burgoyne (February 24, 1722 – August 4, 1792) was a British army officer, politician and dramatist. ... For other uses, see A Tale of Two Cities (disambiguation). ...

Film version



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