|Written by||George Bernard Shaw|
|Date premiered||12 May 1908|
|Place premiered||Haymarket Theatre, London|
|Subject||Various couples have very different views about marriage|
|Genre||comedy of manners|
|Setting||"The Norman kitchen of the Bishop of Chelsea"|
Getting Married is a play by George Bernard Shaw. First performed in 1908, it features a cast of family members who gather together for a marriage. The play analyses and satirises the status of marriage in Shaw's day, with a particular focus on the necessity of liberalising divorce laws.
1908: Edith, youngest daughter of Bishop Bridgenorth, is about to be married. Her uncle General Boxer Bridgenorth, will give her away, as he has all her sisters. As at all the other weddings he proposes to Lesbia Grantham, the bride's aunt, who refuses him for the "tenth and last" time. Lesbia wants a family, but not a husband who smokes and is as untidy as the general. The General is soon shocked to find that his disreputable brother Reginald will be at the wedding. Reginald was recently divorced by his wife for assaulting her and for his adultery with a prostitute. Even more distressingly, his ex-wife Leo is coming too. When the divorcees arrive they are not at all embarrassed. It seems that Leo and her ex-husband arranged the "assault" and the "prostitute" so that they could separate without any blame attaching to Leo, who wishes to marry another man - John Hotchkiss.
However problems arise when the bride refuses to leave her room. She says she is reading a pamphlet on marriage! Apparently Cecil Sykes, her husband-to-be, is also reading a pamphlet. Both refuse to go to the church until they are finished. The couple finally emerge from their rooms. It seems that the pamphlets have revealed to them the dangers of marriage. She has learned that if her husband becomes a criminal lunatic she cannot divorce him. He has learned that he may be liable for his wife's debts. The bishop, who is writing a book on the history of marriage, suggests that Edith and Cecil should revive the Roman concept of marriage by contract, but he thinks a traditional marriage is better. The Bishop's chaplain, a lawyer, tries to draw up a contract, though it proves a difficult task. All the characters have ideas about what should be in the contract, based on their own experience. There is disagreement on medical, religious, financial and other matters.
Eventually they give up, agreeing that a standard marriage is easier, at least with the possibility of divorce. Cecil and Edith leave together and return married - though the ceremony involved the Beadle giving away the bride. They have arranged with an insurance company a deal that will free Cecil of responsibility for any future debt incurred by his wife. In return Cecil has provided a document declaring that if he commits a crime while insane, his wife may divorce him. Hotchkiss, who, it turns out was being pursued by Leo rather against his own wishes, falls in love with the siren-like Mrs George Collins. Leo therefore tells her ex-husband that their divorce must be revoked.
The preface to the published version of Getting Married is essentially a discussion of the future of marriage. Shaw takes the view that "Marriage remains practically inevitable", as the alternatives have too many disadvantages. In a future society, he argued, there could be no practicable replacement for marriage, neither individually negotiated deals or unconstrained "free love". Despite this, there was "a very pressing question of improving its conditions". Shaw went on to argue for sensible divorce laws to would protect the welfare of adults and children.
Shaw notes that the form of the play adopts the classical unities, saying "the Greek form is inevitable when drama reaches a certain point in poetic and intellectual evolution."
The play is generally considered to be one of Shaw's slighter works. Louis Crompton says that "Getting Married is hardly more than an animated tract".Homer E. Woodbridge says, "It has only small bits of action, and these are divided among three groups of people who are very loosely related. But the subtitle and the comment call attention to the two distinctive peculiarities in the form of the play: it is primarily a discussion, and it consists of only one interminable scene."
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George Joseph Smith was an English serial killer and bigamist. In 1915, he was convicted and subsequently hanged for the murders of three women, the case becoming known as the Brides in the Bath Murders. As well as being widely reported in the media, the case was significant in the history of forensic pathology and detection. It was also one of the first cases in which similarities between connected crimes were used to prove deliberation, a technique used in subsequent prosecutions.
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Heartbreak House: A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes is a play written by George Bernard Shaw, first published in 1919 and first played at the Garrick Theatre in November 1920. According to A. C. Ward, the work argues that "cultured, leisured Europe" was drifting toward destruction, and that "Those in a position to guide Europe to safety failed to learn their proper business of political navigation". The "Russian manner" of the subtitle refers to the style of Anton Chekhov, which Shaw adapts.
Edith Mary Kingdon Gould was an American actress. She married George Jay Gould.
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The Custom of the Country is a 1913 tragicomedy of manners novel by American Edith Wharton. It tells the story of Undine Spragg, a Midwestern girl who attempts to ascend in New York City society.
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The Shaw Festival is a major Canadian theatre festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, the second largest repertory theatre company in North America. Founded in 1962, its original mandate was to stimulate interest in George Bernard Shaw and his period, and to advance the development of theatre arts in Canada.
Mary Hamilton was the subject of a notorious 18th-century case of fraud and female cross-dressing, in which Hamilton, under the name of Charles, duped a woman into a supposed marriage.
Marie Lohr was an Australian born film and stage actress, active on stage and in film in Britain.
James Cunningham Bishop, son of New York capitalist Heber R. Bishop, was a banker
Dorothy Minto was a prominent actress on the London stage between 1905 and the mid-1930s, notably appearing in the first runs of several plays written by George Bernard Shaw. She also featured in a small number of films between 1916 and 1936. While her early stage career concentrated on classical plays and serious new work, from 1912 onwards she devoted herself more to musicals and comedies.
Village Wooing, A Comedietta for Two Voices is a play by George Bernard Shaw, written in 1933 and first performed in 1934. It has only two characters, hence the subtitle "a comedietta for two voices". The first scene takes place aboard a liner, the second in a village shop. The characters are known only as "A" and "Z".
Jitta's Atonement (1923) is an adaptation by George Bernard Shaw of the play Frau Gitta's Sühne by Siegfried Trebitsch. It is about a woman who has to atone to her husband for having an affair with his best friend. The atonement of both Jitta and other characters take unexpected forms. Shaw dramatically rewrote the last part of the play, giving it a more characteristically Shavian tone.
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