The Doctor's Dilemma
Large Print Edition
By George Bernard Shaw
BiblioLife (2008), 120 pages
Genre: General Ficiton - Play
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - October 21, 2010
Shaw satirizes several things in this magnificent play. The principle theme is a doctor who feels certain that he has found a cure for tuberculoses. He is approached by a beautiful woman who wants him to include her husband into his medical trials. He only has place for one more person, either the husband or an old poor unsuccessful doctor. His dilemma is that he has fallen in love with the wife and needs to decide if he wants to help the husband live. If the husband dies, he will have a chance to marry the widow who he thinks is attracted to him. Shaw calls this a "moral," but not a "legal" dilemma, and readers need to decide if he is correct and, if so, why?
Shaw introduces a handful of other doctors, all of whom are pompously certain that they can cure people by their own methods, each different than the others, while even a non-physician reader will realize that what their claims are rubbish. Many of their patients die because of their treatments. One of these doctors is a physician who misuses our protagonist's serum and thereby kills his patients. Our protagonist refers the husband to this doctor.
Shaw mocks others in this play. There is a newspaper reporter who is unable to see what is happening before him, unable to understand events, unable to write and spell.
Shaw raises an interesting and thought-provoking question in this play, found in some of his other plays, whether a person who is a genius, a "Nietzschean Superman," must obey the laws that were established to control the general public. The husband is such a person. He is a superb artist. Yet others consider him rouge. He borrows money with no intent to repay. He marries a woman without disclosing that he is already married. Shaw mocks himself when he has the husband say that he is a follower of Bernard Shaw's teaching about the "Superman."
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.