The Doctors Dilemma: A Tragedy (Bernard Shaw Library)

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In this play, Shaw toys with the idea of many different kinds of doctors.

The Doctor's Dilemma

Doctors all believe that they are right, but often that other doctors are not, I am really starting to understand why George Bernard Shaw is held in such high regard in the literary world. Doctors all believe that they are right, but often that other doctors are not, so who is in the wrong? Doctors are given our lives in their hands and only they choose if we are to continue to live or not. The concept of the play really makes you think about doctors in a new light. Especially when the main character must choose if he wants to save a dying artist or sacrifice him in order to marry the widow when he has passed.

I realized fairly quickly after starting this play that I had seen a film version of it with Leslie Caron. While I enjoyed listening to the play, I would recommend the movie over this audiobook to anyone interested in it. The pace of the audiobook too slow and the necessary but not always complete stage directions interrupting the flow both detracted from my enjoyment. Regarding the plot: Shaw has some funny scenes in Act 1 satirizing the successful "Harley Street" physician Harley Street is a street in London that was well-known for being the location of society doctors; it is similar to the term "Fleet Street" meaning the location of publishers of newspapers.

I was surprised by how apt some of the satire still is over years later! The main dilemma is one of morality: is it ethical or right to deny possibly life-saving treatment to someone who is a cad? If the availability of treatment is limited, should the moral and potential future usefulness of the patient be a consideration? Shaw also uses Dubedat to challenge the views of the doctors and audience as to the relative importance of artistic genius compared to obeying society's rules. Even the ending raises some interesting questions: view spoiler [Dr.

Ridgeon believes that he has saved Jennifer Dubedat unhappiness and pain by preventing her from finding out what a bounder Dubedat really was and letting her go through life with her idealized view of him intact.

The doctor's dilemma, Getting Married, & The Shewing-up of Blanco Posnet | Open Library

Regardless of the moral issue of whether he should be making such a decision in the first place, is he right? Perhaps she wouldn't have cared! Her sense of right and wrong are not necessarily the same as Ridgeon's. To add to the "dilemma", the good but poor doctor who got the treatment denied to Dubedat has become something of a know-it-all, no longer the nice man he was before.

So doubt is thrown on using character as a guide to who deserves treatment from both sides. Free download available at Project Gutenberg. View all 3 comments. May 21, Craig rated it really liked it. Very clever, makes cutting social points about death and the medical profession--still highly relevant considering the ongoing NHS debates in the UK, or healthcare debate in the US for that matter..

One of my favourite quotes from the play: 'every profession is a conspiracy against the laity'.

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Brilliantly witty as ever for Shaw. May 28, Gary rated it really liked it. Clever, witty English satire about doctors. The edition I read Penguin Books, includes both the play and an extended essay, Preface on Doctors which takes up half the book. The essay is at least, if not the more interesting of the two. Bernard Shaw -who was also an economist- uses his acerbic wit to attack the privatization of medical practice circa Perhaps in Britain or even Canada , with their history of a relatively succesful National Health Service within a welfare state, this may, even now, not come as so much of a s The edition I read Penguin Books, includes both the play and an extended essay, Preface on Doctors which takes up half the book.

Perhaps in Britain or even Canada , with their history of a relatively succesful National Health Service within a welfare state, this may, even now, not come as so much of a shock as in the United States whose history has been largely dominated by the private healthcare industry to the point where Obamacare seemed to represent a radical -and to some an anti-American- break with the past.

Shaw, as is his wont, starts with a bang: It is not the fault of our doctors that the medical service of the community, as at present provided for, is a murderous absurdity. That any sane nation […] should go on to give a surgeon a pecuniary interest in cutting off your leg, is enough to make one despair of political humanity. But that is precisely what we have done. And the more appalling the mutilation, the more the mutilator is paid.

He who corrects the ingrowing toe-nail receives a few shillings: he who cuts your insides out receives hundreds of guineas, except when he does it to a poor person for practice. And he goes on in fine form: Scandalized voices murmur that these operations are necessary. They may be. It may also be necessary to hang a man or pull down his house.

But we take good care not to make the hangman and the housebreaker the judges of that. I must reply that the medical profession has not a high character; it has an infamous character […] There is another difficulty in trusting to the honor and conscience of a doctor.

Catalog Record: The doctor's dilemma : a tragedy | HathiTrust Digital Library

Doctors are just like other Englishmen: most of them have no honor and no conscience On the one hand, Shaw savagely attacks the inconsistency of doctors who, on a witness box claim they could have saved a patient had their advice and treatment been followed while claiming that they did all that was humanly and medically possible should their patient have died on their watch: Thus everything is on the side of the doctor.

When men die of disease they are said to die from natural causes. When they recover and they mostly do the doctor gets the credit of curing them. Some of his arguments are outdated but a surprising number can still surprise, shock and outrage and force the reader to think more deeply about the issues Shaw raises. They again showcase Shaw's indubitable talent and gusto for polemics.

Suppose you had this choice put before you: either to go through life and find all the [paintings] bad but all the men and women good, or to go through life and find all the [paintings] good and all the men and and women rotten? Which would you choose?

click The pictures are so agreeable, and the good people so infernally disagreeable and mischevous, that I really cant undertake to say offhand which I should prefer to do without. We are distracted from the medical ethical points which are so well made and developed in the preface by the machinery of extra-medical relationships and personalities Shaw sets up to spin his drawing room comedy.

In short, this is a witty and interesting, albeit flawed play which has dated badly in its treatment of some of its medical aspects. Aug 17, Bruce rated it really liked it. Was there ever a play that George Bernard Shaw wrote for which he did not have a social agenda? And is there ever one of his plays in which it is not important for the reader or viewer to carefully read and consider his preface which clarifies that agenda and raises the questions Shaw means to try to address? In the first decade of the 20th century Shaw was concerned about several issues related to health and medical care.

Among others, he was convinced th Was there ever a play that George Bernard Shaw wrote for which he did not have a social agenda? Among others, he was convinced that public health had a greater role to play in human flourishing than did the provision of individual medical services, particularly in view of the lack of efficacy of most medical treatments of the time. But he was also aware that society did not want to pay the price of enormous public health initiatives. He was also concerned about the uneven availability of medical services to various parts of the population and hoped for what eventually became the National Health Service.

In addition, he was aware of the conflicting motivational forces that often drove physicians to ration or selectively apply what treatments that they did have available.

By Bernard Shaw

In this play Dr. Ridgeon has developed a new treatment for tuberculosis, a treatment for which he has been knighted. A group of colleagues gather to congratulate him, not always disinterestedly.


  1. Annes süße Versuchung (German Edition).
  2. George Bernard Shaw - Wikipedia?
  3. Lady Libertine (Harlequin Les Historiques) (French Edition).

Some have their own conflicting theories and treatments, some recognizing that those treatments are spurious but harmless, nevertheless providing them with handsome incomes, some convinced of their own pet theories which they apply uncritically and often over apply. The group is interrupted by a young wife, Jennifer Dubedat, whose artist husband is dying of tuberculosis and who begs for Ridgeon to take over his care.

Ridgeon is attracted to Jennifer personally and even fantasizes about marrying her if and when her husband dies.

But he has a limited number of patients for whom his treatment is available, and one of his colleagues, a poor but worthy physician, needs the treatment also. Each member of the physician group tries to convince Mrs. Dubedat that his own treatment would be preferable. Eventually they all meet the artist who turns out to be a sociopathic scoundrel and a bigamist to boot, albeit a talented painter.

Ultimately Ridgeon fobs the care of the artist off to a colleague, knowing even hoping? The colleague now treating Mr. Dubedat glories in her martyrdom, writing a successful book about her late husband and putting on a glorious exhibition of his works. Ridgeon comes to the exhibition and admits that he wants to marry her, only to find that she has already remarried. Several issues raised by the play are as applicable today as they were a century ago.

Addressing societal and public health issues contributing to illness remains expensive and politically difficult. Medical treatments still are often based on poor science and on the often shaky and biased experiences of individual physicians. Some physicians are venal, focusing on their own remuneration more than on optimal patient care. Difficult ethical judgments must indeed be made every day. Rationing of care does occur and is often unavoidable, but sometimes the criteria for doing so are fraught with ambiguities.

Physicians do sometimes have a variety of motivations directing their patient care their recognition of these often conflicting motivations is of course the first step in sorting them out and being guided by them appropriately. It is clear why this play has perennial relevance and appeal.

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