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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Captains at the helm : Shaw's industrialist "heroes" MacPherson, Trevor Howard


The thesis "Captains at the Helm: Shaw's Industrialist 'Heroes'" attempts to isolate and analyse the concept of the Captain of Industry in Bernard Shaw's essays and drama. The discussion begins with an explication of the social philosophy of Thomas Carlyle (Past and Present and Latter-Day Pamphlets) and John Ruskin (Unto This Last and The Political Economy of Art) as it pertains to leadership and the state of society, or, in particular, to the proper/improper management of capital, industry, and labour. While determining the character and role of Carlyle's and Ruskin's ideal industrial managers— the Captain of Industry and Pilot of State, respectively—the discussion parallels and contrasts these figures with Shaw's own views on the subject, especially concerning his definitive piece of political economy, The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism, and Fascism. The main scope of the thesis is to then explore the nature of Shaw's industrialists, as found in his drama, and critique their characteristics and activities in part according to the schema of industrial management proposed by Carlyle and Ruskin, but principally according to Shaw's own philosophies about social evolution, life purpose, and economies in general. Though Shaw never directly states his own conception of the Captain of Industry, this paper attempts to posit an approximate type. The process of doing so involves a composite sketch drawn from the various capitalists and business people appearing in Shaw's drama, in which characters are compared and contrasted so that a Captain of Industry might be discerned as it develops from this collection of business people. The characters analysed are, as they appear in the order of the discussion, Epifania Fitzfassenden in The Millionairess, Henry Bossborn in Why She Would Not, Boss Mangan in Heartbreak House, Tom Broadbent in John Bull's Other Island, and Andrew Undershaft in Major Barbara. As well, the thesis provides biographical and citational appendices on the German armament manufacturer Alfred Krupp and the American steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie, with special notice put upon Carnegie's business philosophies in his collections of essays, The Gospel of Wealth and The Empire of Business.

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