List Of Contents | Contents of Man and Superman, by Bernard Shaw
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blessings of marriage and the constancy of its vows are the very
people who declare that if the chain were broken and the
prisoners left free to choose, the whole social fabric would fly
asunder. You cannot have the argument both ways. If the prisoner
is happy, why lock him in? If he is not, why pretend that he is?

ANA. At all events, let me take an old woman's privilege again,
and tell you flatly that marriage peoples the world and
debauchery does not.

DON JUAN. How if a time comes when this shall cease to be true? Do
you not know that where there is a will there is a way--that
whatever Man really wishes to do he will finally discover a means
of doing? Well, you have done your best, you virtuous ladies, and
others of your way of thinking, to bend Man's mind wholly towards
honorable love as the highest good, and to understand by
honorable love romance and beauty and happiness in the possession
of beautiful, refined, delicate, affectionate women. You have
taught women to value their own youth, health, shapeliness, and
refinement above all things. Well, what place have squalling
babies and household cares in this exquisite paradise of the
senses and emotions? Is it not the inevitable end of it all that
the human will shall say to the human brain: Invent me a means by
which I can have love, beauty, romance, emotion, passion without
their wretched penalties, their expenses, their worries, their
trials, their illnesses and agonies and risks of death, their
retinue of servants and nurses and doctors and schoolmasters.

THE DEVIL. All this, Senor Don Juan, is realized here in my

DON JUAN. Yes, at the cost of death. Man will not take it at that
price: he demands the romantic delights of your hell whilst he is
still on earth. Well, the means will be found: the brain will not
fail when the will is in earnest. The day is coming when great
nations will find their numbers dwindling from census to census;
when the six roomed villa will rise in price above the family
mansion; when the viciously reckless poor and the stupidly pious
rich will delay the extinction of the race only by degrading it;
whilst the boldly prudent, the thriftily selfish and ambitious,
the imaginative and poetic, the lovers of money and solid
comfort, the worshippers of success, art, and of love, will all
oppose to the Force of Life the device of sterility.

THE STATUE. That is all very eloquent, my young friend; but if
you had lived to Ana's age, or even to mine, you would have
learned that the people who get rid of the fear of poverty and
children and all the other family troubles, and devote themselves
to having a good time of it, only leave their minds free for the
fear of old age and ugliness and impotence and death. The
childless laborer is more tormented by his wife's idleness and
her constant demands for amusement and distraction than he could
be by twenty children; and his wife is more wretched than he. I
have had my share of vanity; for as a young man I was admired by
women; and as a statue I am praised by art critics. But I confess
that had I found nothing to do in the world but wallow in these
delights I should have cut my throat. When I married Ana's
mother--or perhaps, to be strictly correct, I should rather say
when I at last gave in and allowed Ana's mother to marry me--I
knew that I was planting thorns in my pillow, and that marriage
for me, a swaggering young officer thitherto unvanquished, meant
defeat and capture.

ANA. [scandalized] Father!

THE STATUE. I am sorry to shock you, my love; but since Juan has
stripped every rag of decency from the discussion I may as well
tell the frozen truth.

ANA. Hmf! I suppose I was one of the thorns.

THE STATUE. By no means: you were often a rose. You see, your
mother had most of the trouble you gave.

DON JUAN. Then may I ask, Commander, why you have left Heaven to
come here and wallow, as you express it, in sentimental
beatitudes which you confess would once have driven you to cut
your throat?

THE STATUE. [struck by this] Egad, that's true.

THE DEVIL. [alarmed] What! You are going back from your word. [To
Don Juan] And all your philosophizing has been nothing but a mask
for proselytizing! [To the Statue] Have you forgotten already the
hideous dulness from which I am offering you a refuge here? [To
Don Juan] And does your demonstration of the approaching
sterilization and extinction of mankind lead to anything better
than making the most of those pleasures of art and love which you
yourself admit refined you, elevated you, developed you?

DON JUAN. I never demonstrated the extinction of mankind. Life
cannot will its own extinction either in its blind amorphous
state or in any of the forms into which it has organized itself.
I had not finished when His Excellency interrupted me.

THE STATUE. I begin to doubt whether you ever will finish, my
friend. You are extremely fond of hearing yourself talk.

DON JUAN. True; but since you have endured so much. you may as
well endure to the end. Long before this sterilization which I
described becomes more than a clearly foreseen possibility, the
reaction will begin. The great central purpose of breeding the
race, ay, breeding it to heights now deemed superhuman: that
purpose which is now hidden in a mephitic cloud of love and
romance and prudery and fastidiousness, will break through into
clear sunlight as a purpose no longer to be confused with the
gratification of personal fancies, the impossible realization of
boys' and girls' dreams of bliss, or the need of older people for
companionship or money. The plain-spoken marriage services of the
vernacular Churches will no longer be abbreviated and half
suppressed as indelicate. The sober decency, earnestness and
authority of their declaration of the real purpose of marriage
will be honored and accepted, whilst their romantic vowings and
pledgings and until-death-do-us-partings and the like will be
expunged as unbearable frivolities. Do my sex the justice to
admit, Senora, that we have always recognized that the sex
relation is not a personal or friendly relation at all.

ANA. Not a personal or friendly relation! What relation is more
personal? more sacred? more holy?

DON JUAN. Sacred and holy, if you like, Ana, but not personally
friendly. Your relation to God is sacred and holy: dare you call
it personally friendly? In the sex relation the universal
creative energy, of which the parties are both the helpless
agents, over-rides and sweeps away all personal considerations
and dispenses with all personal relations. The pair may be utter
strangers to one another, speaking different languages, differing
in race and color, in age and disposition, with no bond between
them but a possibility of that fecundity for the sake of which
the Life Force throws them into one another's arms at the
exchange of a glance. Do we not recognize this by allowing
marriages to be made by parents without consulting the woman?
Have you not often expressed your disgust at the immorality of
the English nation, in which women and men of noble birth become
acquainted and court each other like peasants? And how much does
even the peasant know of his bride or she of him before he
engages himself? Why, you would not make a man your lawyer or
your family doctor on so slight an acquaintance as you would fall
in love with and marry him!

ANA. Yes, Juan: we know the libertine's philosophy. Always ignore
the consequences to the woman.

DON JUAN. The consequences, yes: they justify her fierce grip of
the man. But surely you do not call that attachment a sentimental
one. As well call the policeman's attachment to his prisoner a
love relation.

ANA. You see you have to confess that marriage is necessary,
though, according to you, love is the slightest of all the

DON JUAN. How do you know that it is not the greatest of all the
relations? far too great to be a personal matter. Could your
father have served his country if he had refused to kill any
enemy of Spain unless he personally hated him? Can a woman serve
her country if she refuses to marry any man she does not
personally love? You know it is not so: the woman of noble birth
marries as the man of noble birth fights, on political and family
grounds, not on personal ones.

THE STATUE. [impressed] A very clever point that, Juan: I must
think it over. You are really full of ideas. How did you come to
think of this one?

DON JUAN. I learnt it by experience. When I was on earth, and
made those proposals to ladies which, though universally
condemned, have made me so interesting a hero of legend, I was
not infrequently met in some such way as this. The lady would say
that she would countenance my advances, provided they were
honorable. On inquiring what that proviso meant, I found that it
meant that I proposed to get possession of her property if she
had any, or to undertake her support for life if she had not;
that I desired her continual companionship, counsel and
conversation to the end of my days, and would bind myself
under penalties to be always enraptured by them; and, above all,
that I would turn my back on all other women for ever for her
sake. I did not object to these conditions because they were
exorbitant and inhuman: it was their extraordinary irrelevance
that prostrated me. I invariably replied with perfect frankness
that I had never dreamt of any of these things; that unless the
lady's character and intellect were equal or superior to my own,
her conversation must degrade and her counsel mislead me; tha t
her constant companionship might, for all I knew, become
intolerably tedious to me; that I could not answer for my
feelings for a week in advance, much less to the end of my life;
that to cut me off from all natural and unconstrained relations
with the rest of my fellow creatures would narrow and warp me if
I submitted to it, and, if not, would bring me under the curse of
clandestinity; that, finally, my proposals to her were wholly
unconnected with any of these matters, and were the outcome of a
perfectly simple impulse of my manhood towards her womanhood.

ANA. You mean that it was an immoral impulse.

DON JUAN. Nature, my dear lady, is what you call immoral. I blush
for it; but I cannot help it. Nature is a pandar, Time a wrecker,
and Death a murderer. I have always preferred to stand up to
those facts and build institutions on their recognition. You
prefer to propitiate the three devils by proclaiming their
chastity, their thrift, and their loving kindness; and to base
your institutions on these flatteries. Is it any wonder that the
institutions do not work smoothly?

THE STATUE. What used the ladies to say, Juan?

DON JUAN. Oh, come! Confidence for confidence. First tell me what
you used to say to the ladies.

THE STATUE. I! Oh, I swore that I would be faithful to the death;
that I should die if they refused me; that no woman could ever be
to me what she was--

ANA. She? Who?

THE STATUE. Whoever it happened to be at the time, my dear. I had
certain things I always said. One of them was that even when I
was eighty, one white hair of the woman I loved would make me
tremble more than the thickest gold tress from the most beautiful
young head. Another was that I could not bear the thought of
anyone else being the mother of my children.

DON JUAN. [revolted] You old rascal!

THE STATUE. [Stoutly] Not a bit; for I really believed it with
all my soul at the moment. I had a heart: not like you. And it
was this sincerity that made me successful.

DON JUAN. Sincerity! To be fool enough to believe a ramping,
stamping, thumping lie: that is what you call sincerity! To be so
greedy for a woman that you deceive yourself in your eagerness to
deceive her: sincerity, you call it!

THE STATUE. Oh, damn your sophistries! I was a man in love, not a
lawyer. And the women loved me for it, bless them!

DON JUAN. They made you think so. What will you say when I tell
you that though I played the lawyer so callously, they made me
think so too? I also had my moments of infatuation in which I
gushed nonsense and believed it. Sometimes the desire to give
pleasure by saying beautiful things so rose in me on the flood of
emotion that I said them recklessly. At other times I argued
against myself with a devilish coldness that drew tears. But I
found it just as hard to escape in the one case as in the others.
When the lady's instinct was set on me, there was nothing for it
but lifelong servitude or flight.

ANA. You dare boast, before me and my father, that every woman
found you irresistible.

DON JUAN. Am I boasting? It seems to me that I cut the most
pitiable of figures. Besides, I said "when the lady's instinct
was set on me." It was not always so; and then, heavens! what
transports of virtuous indignation! what overwhelming defiance to
the dastardly seducer! what scenes of Imogen and Iachimo!

ANA. I made no scenes. I simply called my father.

DON JUAN. And he came, sword in hand, to vindicate outraged honor
and morality by murdering me.

THE STATUE. Murdering! What do you mean? Did I kill you or did
you kill me?

DON JUAN. Which of us was the better fencer?


DON JUAN. Of course you were. And yet you, the hero of those
scandalous adventures you have just been relating to us, you had
the effrontery to pose as the avenger of outraged morality and
condemn me to death! You would have slain me but for an accident.

THE STATUE. I was expected to, Juan. That is how things were
arranged on earth. I was not a social reformer; and I always did
what it was customary for a gentleman to do.

DON JUAN. That may account for your attacking me, but not for the
revolting hypocrisy of your subsequent proceedings as a statue.

THE STATUE. That all came of my going to Heaven.

THE DEVIL. I still fail to see, Senor Don Juan, that these
episodes in your earthly career and in that of the Senor
Commander in any way discredit my view of life. Here, I repeat,
you have all that you sought without anything that you shrank

DON JUAN. On the contrary, here I have everything that
disappointed me without anything that I have not already tried
and found wanting. I tell you that as long as I can conceive
something better than myself I cannot be easy unless I am
striving to bring it into existence or clearing the way for it.
That is the law of my life. That is the working within me of
Life's incessant aspiration to higher organization, wider,
deeper, intenser self-consciousness, and clearer
self-understanding. It was the supremacy of this purpose that
reduced love for me to the mere pleasure of a moment, art for me
to the mere schooling of my faculties, religion for me to a mere
excuse for laziness, since it had set up a God who looked at the
world and saw that it was good, against the instinct in me that
looked through my eyes at the world and saw that it could be
improved. I tell you that in the pursuit of my own pleasure, my
own health, my own fortune, I have never known happiness. It was
not love for Woman that delivered me into her hands: it was

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