Major Barbara | Study Guide

George Bernard Shaw

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Major Barbara | Act Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • A January evening

    Lady Britomart tells Stephen the family is financially dependent on the Undershaft business.

    Act 1
  • Immediately after

    Stephen learns his parents separated over his father's refusal to leave the business to him.

    Act 1
  • 9 p.m.

    Undershaft arrives and greets his family without knowing who is who.

    Act 1
  • Later that evening

    Barbara and Undershaft extend reciprocal invitations to visit each other at their places of work.

    Act 1
  • The next day

    Bill arrives behaving violently and looking for Mog.

    Act 2
  • Moments later

    Barbara tries to save Bill's soul and is almost successful.

    Act 2
  • Soon after

    Undershaft visits the shelter and offers to donate money to keep it running.

    Act 2
  • Immediately after

    Mrs. Baines accepts Undershaft's money over Barbara's objections.

    Act 2
  • Immediately after

    Angry and disillusioned, Barbara takes off her Salvation Army pin and resigns.

    Act 2
  • The next day

    The family finds out Cusins and Undershaft went out and got drunk together the previous night.

    Act 3
  • Immediately following

    The family visits and admires Undershaft's factory and the utopian town built for its employees.

    Act 3
  • Soon after

    Cusins reveals he is technically a foundling and eligible to be heir to the business.

    Act 3
  • Immediately after

    After negotiating, Undershaft offers the business to Cusins, who promises to act ethically.

    Act 3
  • Immediately after

    Barbara decides she can use her position in an evil business to bring about good.

    Act 3

Act Summaries Chart

Act Summary
Preface In the 1906 preface to Major Barbara, Shaw claims he will "help ... critics ... by telling them what to say about it." I... Read More
Act 1 Act 1 opens on a January evening in the library of a home in Wilton Crescent. Lady Britomart, a middle-aged, wealthy, up... Read More
Act 2 In the yard of Salvation Army West Ham shelter, an older woman, Rummy Mitchens, and an out-of-work painter, Snobby Price... Read More
Act 3 Back in the library at Wilton Crescent the next day, Charles Lomax is surprised to find Barbara wearing a dress rather t... Read More
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