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Geneva: ‘On the Jewish Question’ of Shaw

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2014, 27(3), pp.193-223
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Eom Tae-yong 1

1가톨릭관동대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Geneva is a political play by George Bernard Shaw to pursue a peaceful solution to international problems of the 1930s. With dramatizing conflicts between Fascist countries and Western democracies, Shaw’s viewpoint on the Jewish question seems to stand out more than any other subjects. This drama begins when the Jew visits the International Committee for Intellectual Cooperation in Geneva to appeal to the International Justice Court against a ruler who has been persecuting Jewish people. The Jew is on stage as a deliberate character never to give up his target and interest. Wooed by the Jew, the Widow abhors him in that she believes Jews crucified her Savior and would cut a child in pieces and sprinkle its blood. Such a misconstruction has been a usual understanding about Jews, who were the only pagans in the European Christian community, since the Renaissance. Besides, the Jew is described as an economic animal to appropriate huge profits for his materialistic greed even before the crisis of human extinction. Shaw points out the sense of superiority of Jews from their elitism of God’s chosen people and believes that it has led to their diaspora and persecution as well as provided the anti-semitism with a cause. It is paradoxical that Battler[Hitler], who has assaulted, expelled and even massacred Jews, puts emphasis on Aryan purity and superiority while criticizing the Jewish elitism. The sense of ethnic superiority of the Jew and Battler extends to the national egoism of the great powers including Britain. To resolve these problems, Shaw ever suggested eugenic marriages and humane edification between classes, ethnic groups or races. Engaged mainly in commerce and finance for hundreds of years, Jews have represented a negative aspect of capitalism since the modern economic structure began. It is significant that the Jew in Geneva and Jansenius, another Jew in An Unsocial Socialist, are socially condemned for their heartless conduct as financial capitalists more than their Jewish features. The perspective of Shaw to regard the Jewish question as a capitalistic problem is more clearly expressed in ‘On the Jewish Question’ by Karl Marx, where it is stated that practical need of Jews turned so secular that money became their God and this God has dominated the world. Shaw’s connotations in Geneva can be said to be still valid in the present state of affairs that Israel, the Jewish country, has perpetrated another holocaust and the United States supporting them has ruled over the world system of capitalism.

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