With Plays Unpleasant, therefore, Shaw broke all the rules governing how a playwright should entertain his audience. In Widower’s Houses, Harry Trench is engaged to brisk Blanche Sartorius. When he realizes that her father is a slum landlord, Harry questions whether he and Blanche have a future together. Charismatic Leonard Charteris is the philanderer who proposes marriage to Grace, while still involved with the beautiful Julia Craven. But Julia is not inclined to surrender him so easily. In Mrs Warren’s Profession, Vivie discovers that her mother’s immoral earnings have paid for her genteel upbringing. Will she be able to accept her mother for herself?
These plays, as David Edgar says, deal with “the conflict between youthful ideals and economics realities, the drawbacks of promiscuity and the perils of matrimony, the duties of women to others and themselves, the necessity for and the costs of revolt. What could be more eternal than that?”
The definitive text under the editorial supervision by Dan H. Laurence