Study Guide

Major Barbara Religion

By George Bernard Shaw

Religion

Barbara is a Major in the Salvation Army, and she remains fervently religious and devoted to the cause of conversion for most of the play. However, her father pits his own wacky set of morals and philosophical/religious views against Barbara's, challenging a lot of her assumptions about religion and the best way to spread it to others/help the cause of belief. They probably still have pretty radically different views at the end, but the dialogue at least helps Barbara separate herself from some of the hypocrisies and misconceptions that her father believes were standing in her/the Army's way.

Questions About Religion

  1. Do you buy that Andrew actually thinks each person can have their own personal religion or at least a set of morals, depending on their own circumstances? Is that what ends up happening with the characters, or are they all really coming over to Undershaft's "religion of wrongness"?
  2. How does Barbara's religion change throughout the play, if at all? Has she pretty much maintained her own religious principles or adopted her father's at the end?
  3. What do you make of the play's portrayal of Christianity and Christians? When Andrew talks about outdated or obsolete philosophies, is he talking about those belief systems?

Chew on This

Ultimately, the play suggests that everyone can have their own religion or set of morals that is particular to them—well, if the character development for Barbara, Undershaft, and Dolly is supposed to be any indicator.

Andrew's suggestion that there can be different religions is disingenuous, since he ultimately expects everyone to come over to his utilitarian way of thinking about right and wrong, wherein right and wrong are determined according to what is useful to you.

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