"The Devil's Disciple" by Bernard Shaw. (Examining the theme of good versus evil between the characters of Anthony Anderson and Dick Dudgeon).

Essay by blinkbabe13B+, April 2006

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The play 'The Devil's Disciple' was written by Irish playwright Bernard Shaw and is set in New Hampshire in the year 1777. The story focuses on the town of Websterbridge, the Dudgeon family and the local Presbyterian minister Anthony Anderson. The current political situation sees the American colonies struggling to achieve their independence from Britain. In retaliation the British troops are invading the American colonies and hanging selected American citizens in an attempt to force the Americans back under British rule. Peter Dudgeon has been hanged by the British troops, leaving his illegitimate daughter, Essie, in the care of his brother Timothy's widow. Mrs Dudgeon already has two sons of her own - Richard (Dick) and Christopher (Christy) - and "girls" who remain unnamed. The story begins with the reading of Mrs Dudgeon's late husband Timothy's will. The will reveals that Timothy has left the majority of his estate to Dick; who is described as the "reprobate".

The British troops descend on Websterbridge with a view to arresting Anthony Anderson. However when the soldiers arrive at the minister's house he is not there. Christy has called for him as Mrs Dudgeon has fallen ill; Dick - who had arrived shortly beforehand to visit the minister - agrees to wait with Anderson's wife Judith until the minister himself returns. Judith makes no secret of the fact that she has an immense disliking for Dick and that she is merely humouring him until her husband returns. Dick makes himself quite at home, so much so that when the soldiers arrive at the minister's house they mistake him for Anderson and arrest him. Dick however does not protest, instead he pretends to be Anderson and leaves a message with Judith to warn Anderson. Anderson returns home to find Judith...