Androcles and the Lion

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9780140480108: Androcles and the Lion

George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin in 1856. Before becoming a playwright he wrote music and literary criticism. Shaw used his writing to attack social problems such as education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege. Shaw was particularly conscious of the exploitation of the working class. When the Romans intend to throw Androcles and the other Christians to the lions, it turns out that the lion who is supposed to eat the Christians is a personal friend of Androcles. This famous story begins "A jungle path. A lion's roar, a melancholy suffering roar, comes from the jungle. It is repeated nearer. The lion limps from the jungle on three legs, holding up his right forepaw, in which a huge thorn sticks. He sits down and contemplates it. He licks it. He shakes it. He tries to extract it by scraping it along the ground, and hurts himself worse. He roars piteously. He licks it again. Tears drop from his eyes. He limps painfully off the path and lies down under the trees, exhausted with pain. Heaving a long sigh, like wind in a trombone, he goes to sleep."

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"[...]stout, dearie. MEGAERA. Yes, insult me, do. (Rising) Oh! I won't bear it another moment. You used to sit and talk to those dumb brute beasts for hours, when you hadn't a word for me. ANDROCLES. They never answered back, darling. (He rises and again shoulders the bundle). MEGAERA. Well, if you're fonder of animals than of your own wife, you can live with them here in the jungle. I've had enough of them and enough of you. I'm going back. I'm going home. ANDROCLES (barring the way back) No, dearie: don't take on like that. We can't go back. We've sold everything: we should starve; and I should be sent to Rome and thrown to the lions- MEGAERA. Serve you right! I wish the lions joy of you. (Screaming) Are you going to get out of my way and let me go home? ANDROCLES. No, dear- MEGAERA. Then I'll make my way through the forest; and when I'm eaten by the wild beasts you'll know what a wife you've lost. (She dashes into the jungle and nearly falls over the sleeping lion). Oh! Oh! Andy! Andy! (She totters back and[...]".

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George Bernard Shaw's play Androcles and the Lion (1912) makes Androcles a tailor; he is also given Christian beliefs for the purposes of the play, which on the whole takes a skeptical view of religion. 1912 was also the date of the first film adaptation of the story in the USA. Afterwards there were several others for both cinema and TV.

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