Character Analysis Hector Malone, Jr.


In the words of Mr. Arthur H. Nethercot (Men and Supermen, 1954), Hector is Shaw's Manly Man. And Shaw has no more respect for him than he has for the Womanly Woman; he is an object of satire. On the credit side, Shaw tells us that he has an "engaging freshness of . . . personality," that he is chivalrous to women, and that his "vein of easy humour" is "rather amusing when it ceases to puzzle" his audience. But he is the ultra-romantic, and it is this quality which makes him so attractive and admirable to Octavius. He is almost oppressively moral and noble; his standards are those of the strict Puritan. As Shaw puts it, "English life seems to him to suffer from a lack of edifying rhetoric (which he calls moral tone); English behavior to shew a want of respect for womanhood. . . : English society to be plain spoken to an extent which stretches occasionally to intolerable coarseness." Add to this the fact that he dislikes politics and is intellectually bankrupt and a rather ridiculous figure emerges.

Hector is nothing if not noble. He is shocked to the marrow of his moral being to learn that his father had read a letter intended for the son, although Violet reasonably points out that the error was completely understandable. He denounces his father and, mouthing high sounding terms, declares that he will not take a penny more from him — that as of that afternoon he has become a Working Man. One can join Tanner in exclaiming: "No wonder American women prefer to live in Europe."

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