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Our intial impression of a character usually influences the way we judge that character throughout the play. Discuss the way Shaw presents Richard Dudgeon to the audience in Act I. Have your impressions of him changed by the end of the play?

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Our intial impression of a character usually influences the way we judge that character throughout the play. Discuss the way Shaw presents Richard Dudgeon to the audience in Act I. Have your impressions of him changed by the end of the play? What conclusions do you think Shaw wants us to draw about him? When we are first introduced to Richard Dudgeon, at the reading of his late father Timothy's will in his childhood home, we have already learned of his character from the opinions of three other characters: firstly, his mother, then from Anthony Anderson, the minister, and finally, from Anderson's wife Judith. None of these accounts are in Richard's favour, although Anthony Anderson is perhaps the least against Richard of them all. Richard's mother considers Richard to be the lowest of the low and a disgrace to his society; she believes that there is nothing admirable about him at all. However, one could argue that she is not much of an admirable woman herself, embittered by having been forced to marry Timothy Dudgeon and not Timothy's late brother Peter, for whom she really had feelings. We learn that Timothy was the good and righteous brother, whereas Peter was not and was therefore disgraced and cast into shame by his relatives and peers. ...read more.


He shows his younger brother Christy little patience, and his mother, embittered even more by her husband's alteration of his will which has left her virtually destitute, soon becomes ill. However, so far all that the audience judges him upon is his usage of dialogue. All of the other things that have earned him such a reputation are reported actions, told to us through other characters. The audience have not actually witnessed any such actions. It is what he does for the Andersons that ultimately reveals his true nature. When Anthony Anderson goes out to see the dying Mrs Dudgeon, Judith and Richard are left alone together and Judith is quick to tell Richard how much she hates him, for after Richard's behaviour and insults towards her and her husband at the reading of the will her dislike of him appears to have deepened. She still believes that Richard has very little respect for her husband, for as soon as he enters the house he displays his usual laid back manner. Anderson appears to have let this fly over his head, but Judith is far from pleased that Richard should insult such a good man, and feels that he has no right to do so. ...read more.


When the soldiers make to hang him instead, he presents his safe-conduct and saves both himself and Richard. It is then that he announces that he believes Richard would make an excellent minister, and that he, Anderson, is better suited to a life in the militia. Richard is quick taken aback by such a suggestion, and tells Anderson that he feels more of a fool than a hero, but Anderson tells him otherwise. In conclusion, what Shaw is trying to tell us from this play is that you should not judge upon first impressions; and that what a man appears as outwardly, is not necessarily what he really feels inwardly. The audience is quick to judge upon Richard's character from the accounts we are given at the beginning of the play, but as the story progresses, we learn that there is more to the man than meets the eye, and that perhaps the comments and tales of his God-fearing relatives and neighbours are not enough to judge him upon. Richard, despite his great display of bravado and arrogance through his confident manner and use of dialogue, as well as having a reputation which he clearly feels proud of, is really a very good hearted man, and perhaps even more willing to save his fellow man than all his puritanical relatives. Leanne Taylor, 10W - English Coursework - The Devil's Disciple ...read more.

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