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MonkeyNotes-Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw
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Tanner makes no secret of the fact that he knows how Ann operates; he openly voices both criticism and suspicion of her in her pursuit of a husband. Though he tries to convince himself it is Octavius she is after, it is more likely that a man as savvy as Tanner knows he is her intended prey, for Ann has always been attracted to him. The pattern of pursuit was established in their childhood. Tanner himself explains that Ann somehow managed to extract his deepest secrets and feelings, always without managing to tell any of her own. Tanner always explains how it always felt he needed to prove himself to Ann. "I found myself doing all sorts of mischievous things simply to have something to tell you about. I fought with boys I didnít hate, I lied about things I might just as well have told the truth about, I stole things I didnít want, I kissed little girls I didnít care for. It was all bravado, passionless and therefore unreal." He even told Ann of his love affair with another woman, only to have her put an end to it under the guise of friendly duty. It is obvious that Ann wants Tanner to be her groom.

In this first act, all of the main characters are introduced, including Octavius, Ramsden, Tanner, and Ann. The main conflict of the play is also clearly established. John Tanner, a desirable and progressive young man, is trying to resist the advances of Ann Whitefield, who has just been made his charge by the death of her father; but Ann is a very aggressive young woman, determined to get the man she wants. The main theme of the play, the clash between old and new, is also introduced. Ramsden is the symbol of the conservative and outdated, while Tanner is the symbol of the new and revolutionary.


A subplot is also introduced at the end of the first Act. Violet Robinson, Octaviusí sister, announces that she is pregnant, even though no one knows that she is married. Despite the scathing criticism she receives, Violet refuses to repent for her pregnancy. The ideologies of several characters are brought to the forefront as a direct result of their responses to Violet. Ramsden, for all his supposed progressive thinking, is entirely conventional in his response to Violet. He is shocked at her behavior and concerned about her well-being; his reaction proves he is neither freethinking nor open to an alternative lifestyle. His image of himself simply does not match up with his actions. On the other hand, Tanner praises Violet for her boldness to become an unwed mother. In response, Violet announces that she is not single, but married; however, with determination, she refuses to reveal the name of her husband, the father of her child.

Violetís conflict will be interwoven with the main plot throughout the play. Violet will also serve to strengthen the theme of the old vs. the new. Like Tanner, she is unconventional in her thinking and actions and rebellious against the staid and traditional.

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