THE ESSENCE OF THE TITLE OF THE PLAY
B.Shaw himself called this work one of the “unpleasant plays”. From
my point of view it can be explained in the following way. The relations
between people, I mean, their acquaintances, their friendship, even their
love affairs are based on the matter of money and social status, profit in
one word. That’s the main point.
The title arouses associations with the following words from bible (I
can’t quote): “woe is you, scribes and /Pharisee,/ hypocrite. You ruin
widows’ houses.” So the author makes it sound ironically as Sat. is a
widower according to the content and the owner of “houses”, slum
properties. Yet it is not him who is ruined. He ruins poor creatures who
have hardly enough to keep body and soul together and who live in these
houses which are hardly fit for dogs.
It is the play without either heroes or villains. The characters are only
the strings and wheels of this imperfect social system. They all are in the
same swim. Any attempt to become better, more kind-hearted,
understanding fails as such intentions run counter part the very system.
The dialogues between S., L., T., prove that. They live in the society
where nothing but money and social status matters (prevail over
all other values, are above all). They have been brought up
according to its norms and must submit to them. We have no
right to accuse them of it. It’s not the people taken in isolation
that should be opposed and forced to change their mode of life,
their views in a day, but the whole system. That’s the idea the
author tried to bring home to the audience.