The Devil's Disciple
Large Print Edition
By George Bernard Shaw
BiblioBazaar (2007), 98 pages
Genre: General Ficiton - Play
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - October 21, 2010
This is an excellent play on many levels. The story, similar in a few respects to Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, is, among other things, about a man's willingness to give up his life for another. However, where Dickens's story ends with the decision, Shaw's play focuses on the reactions of various people and the community to that decision.
The play and especially Shaw's Afterword reveals what really caused the British defeat at Saratoga. General Burgoyne would have won the battle if a rather stupid British official in London had not decided to leave his office for a holiday before signing the order for General Howe to leave New York and join him. Had the order been signed and Howe joined Burgoyne, Burgoyne would have had sufficient forces to beat the Americans. Without Howe's forces, he was very badly outnumbered.
Shaw uses this play to show again, as he did in other plays, that war is improper, gentlemanly character can be silly, and in his opinion, Christian practices are wrong.
The main characters are depicted very well. The "Devil's Disciple," although he eschews Christianity, shows good moral behavior, bravery, and a sense of humor. The minister realizes that Christianity will not save America, and he takes the field as a soldier. His wife is overwhelmed by the "Devil's Disciple," falls in love with him, and does all she can to save him.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.