A play by Bernard Shaw, first performed 1892, published 1893. It is designed to show the manner in which the capitalist system perverts and corrupts human behaviour and relationships.
Dr Harry Trench, on a Rhine holiday, meets Blanche Sartorius, travelling with her wealthy father, and proposes marriage to her: Sartorius is willing to permit the match if Trench's family (including his aunt Lady Roxdale) agrees to accept her as an equal. All seems well, until it is revealed in Act II that Sartorius is a slum landlord. Trench is horrified, refuses to accept Sartorius's money, suggests that he and Blanche should live on his £700 a year, and is even more horrified when Sartorius points out that this income is derived from a mortgage of Sartorius's property, and that he himself and his miserable rent collector Lickcheese are merely intermediaries: ‘You are the principal.’ Blanche, revealing a passionate and violent nature, rejects Trench for his hesitations. In the third act Lickcheese, himself now rich through dubious dealings in the property market, approaches Sartorius with an apparently philanthropic but in fact remunerative proposition, which involves Lady Roxdale as ground landlord and Trench as mortgagee. Trench, now considerably more cynical, accepts the deal, and he and Blanche are reunited.