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COMMENTARY. 1. [He sits down in the wicker-chair]

1. [He sits down in the wicker-chair...]

The words in square brackets are stage directions. B. Shaw was the first to introduce detailed stage directions in the printed text of a play. They are of great importance with him, for his plays were meant both for reading and staging. Shaw's stage directions may contain detailed descriptions of the setting and of the characters' appearances. They enable the playwright to comment on the behaviour or the inner state of his characters and hint at his own point of view.

2. M. You were saying—? —E. Was I?

Both constructions are typical of colloquial syntax. For the first see note 3 to Lesson 2. " Was I? " is a kind of question-response denoting surprise. The choice of the verb depends on the previous remark.

3. I forget.

When the verb " to forget" is synonymous for " not to remember" it is used in the Present Indefinite and not in the Present Perfect [74] Tense, as well as the verbs " to hear" and " to learn" standing for " to be in the know".

4. I shouldn't be surprised...

Shaw deliberately omits apostrophes in contracted forms. It is one of his attempts at simplifying English spelling. See also mustn't, don't, you'll, that's, etc. in the text.

5. It's no use pretending that we are Romeo and Juliet.

That is an ironical allusion to the famous tragedy by Shake­speare. The irony seems bitter, for Ellie is a true admirer of Shake­speare, besides she is really young, whereas Mangan is well above fifty.

6. M. Kindness of heart, eh? I ruined your father, didn't I? — E. Oh, not intentionally.—M. Yes, I did. Ruined him on purpose.— E. On purpose!

The passage abounds in colloquial constructions; besides those mentioned in note 2 we come across elliptical sentences with one or -both principal parts omitted and a kind of reiterative response, containing the words of the previous remark which seem most striking to the speaker (here: " kindness of heart", " on purpose").

7. W a s mine!

B. Shaw was the first to introduce spaced letters into English plays as a graphic means of stressing words. He reserves italic type for stage directions.

8....she composes herself to listen with a combination of conscious curiosity! with unconscious contempt...

The quoted part of stage directions at first sight may seem only a witty word combination typical of Shaw. The sense underlying it is deeper than that: Ellie sees life anew and she wants to understand its laws. " Curiosity" is used in its good meaning—an eager desire to know more of people and life. She is aware of this desire, so her curiosity is conscious. But she does not realize as yet that in this knowledge of life lies her strength and she is beginning to despise Mangan, hence her unconscious contempt.

Shaw's remark is all the wittier for an effective alliteration of the sound [k] (letter " c"). Alliteration is the repetition of an initial consonant.

9. Of course you don't understand: what do you know about busi­ness?

The above question is a rhetorical one. This is a kind of question to which no answer is expected, for it implies a statement. Here Mangan just means that Ellie knows nothing about business. A rhetorical question is used to draw the listener's attention to a certain point of discourse and may be of various emotional value. Here [75] the rhetorical question intensifies Mangan's contempt for Ellie's ignorance in business.

10. You just listen and learn.

In colloquial speech the pronoun " you" is used as a subject in im­perative sentences to add an emotional colouring to the words said. Here it enhances Mangan's contempt for Ellie's and her father's ignorance in business.

11....deferred ordinary shares...

These are " shares of little value". Their owners have no privileges at all contrary to those who possess " preferred shares". So Mangan means that Ellie's father and his partners have to part with their preferred shares which they held at first as initiators of the business.

12....and then perhaps they have to sell out to a third lot.

The indefinite article before an ordinal numeral denotes " one more", " another", etc. The exact meaning of the numeral is of no particular importance in this case. Thus Mangan might have said " to another lot", " to a new lot".

13....he would work himself silly for it....

The sentence contains an objective predicative, i.e. an adjective (a noun or an adverb) serving as a predicative to the object. The objective predicative generally expresses the state or the quality of the object which is the result of the action denoted by the verb.

14. When I see your father beaming at me with his moist grateful eyes, regularly wallowing in gratitude, I sometimes feel I must tell him the truth or burst.

" To wallow in gratitude" is an unconventional word combination. The primary meaning of the verb " to wallow" is " to roll about" (in mud, dirty water, etc.) as an animal does (from enjoyment). The verb is used figuratively in phraseological combinations " to wallow in a money (in vice)". The way Mangan uses the verb here reveals his contempt for Ellie's father, it is in accordance with other words used in a derogatory way (" moist eyes", " a blamed fool", etc.).

15. How strange! That my mother... should have been quite right about you!

The analytical subjunctive with 'should' for all persons is often used to give the whole utterance an emotional coloring, thus inten­sifying the feeling of surprise, regret, incredulity, doubt, annoyance and so on. What feeling is meant is prompted by some word in the principal clause or by the situation.

16. M. You’re not in earnest? —E. Yes I am.

It is peculiar to the English language that when one-disagrees with a negative statement or question, the answer is affirmative. [76]

On the contrary, if one disagrees with an affirmative remark, the answer is negative, e.g. You are joking.—No, I am not. Note that both parts of the answer are either negative or affirmative.

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