Man and Superman by Shaw: Summary, Characters & Analysis

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Minstrel Show: Definition & History

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Plot Summary
  • 2:00 Characters
  • 3:16 Analysis
  • 4:28 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Roxanna Coldiron

Roxanna has a master's in media management from The New School and a bachelor's in Communication from Hiram College.

This lesson provides a summary of George Bernard Shaw's famous play 'Man and Superman,' which explores traditional gender roles and romance. You'll learn about its characters and take an analytical look into the playwright's mind.

Plot Summary

The highly respectable Roebuck Ramsden, distinguished in age with gray hair and the designer duds of the early 1900s, finds himself in a predicament when his old friend Mr. Whitefield dies. Mr. Ramsden, along with the hotshot young Mr. John 'Jack' Tanner, is charged with the care of Mr. Whitefield's daughters, the beautiful Ann and her younger sister Rhoda. Mr. Ramsden disapproves of Mr. Tanner's Socialist political views, because he feels that the views are radical and dangerous. Mr. Tanner is also not thrilled to be Ann's guardian because he sees the young woman as nothing but trouble. Ann, however, intends to get the uninterested Mr. Tanner to marry her regardless of Mr. Ramsden's objections.

One evening, Mr. Tanner, in the company of robbers and thieves with lively political views, dreams about an incarnation of Don Juan, the famous womanizer, and hears his explanation that, for the wicked, hell is actually not so bad. Marriage, explains the don, is a terrible institution, ruining the potential of creating superhumans. Don Juan's womanizing was the result of woman's scheming, for women made him believe that he loved each of them. He had become their prey. Mr. Tanner awakes from the dream, still against the idea of marrying Ann Whitefield. He agrees to her marriage proposal, though, because he feels that he has no other choice.

Violet Robinson, a friend of the Whitefields, has married in secret. She is pregnant and sends a letter to her husband, Hector Malone Jr. However, the letter is mistakenly delivered to his father, who shares the same name. When her new father-in-law Malone finds out about the marriage, he confronts both Violet and his son Hector. At first, he disapproves of the marriage because she comes from a different social class. Malone gives them his blessing once he realizes that Violet is the perfect woman for his son.


Roebuck Ramsden is a wealthy man who holds to traditional political values and old-fashioned morality.

John Tanner is the author of a socialist book on revolution, often goes by the name of Jack, and is a confirmed bachelor. He thinks that Ann is not as sweet and dutiful as she appears.

Ann Whitefield, a beguiling young woman, proclaims that she must do as her father had wished, or as her mother tells her to do.

Octavius Robinson is a poet who romanticizes Ann Whitefield as the perfect woman, in spite of the fact that she doesn't return his affection.

Violet Robinson, Octavius' sister, is married to and pregnant by Hector Malone Jr., who holds himself, and others, to the highest levels of morality

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account