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The Doctor's Dilemma

George Bernard Shaw

Book Overview: 

The Doctor's Dilemma is about Dr. Colenso Ridgeon, who has recently been knighted because of a miraculous new treatment he developed for tuberculosis. As his friends arrive to congratulate him on his success, he is visited by two figures who present him with a difficult decision. He has room for one more patient in his clinic; should he give it to Louis Dubedat, a brilliant but absolutely immoral artist, or Dr. Blenkinsop, a poor and rather ordinary physician who is a truly good person? Dr. Ridgeon's dilemma is heightened when he falls for Jennifer Dubedat, the artist's wife, who is innocent of her husband's profligacy.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Well, my dear Paddy, do what you will, some of them wont stain. They wont take cochineal: they wont take methylene blue; they wont take gentian violet: they wont take any coloring matter. Consequently, though we know, as scientific men, that they exist, we cannot see them. But can you disprove their existence? Can you conceive the disease existing without them? Can you, for instance, shew me a case of diphtheria without the bacillus?

SIR PATRICK. No; but I'll shew you the same bacillus, without the disease, in your own throat.

B. B. No, not the same, Sir Patrick. It is an entirely different bacillus; only the two are, unfortunately, so exactly alike that you cannot see the difference. You must understand, my dear Sir Patrick, that every one of these interesting little creatures has an imitator. Just as men imitate each other, germs imitate each other. There is the genuine diphtheria bacillus discovered by Loeffler; and there is the pseudo-bacillus, . . . Read More

Community Reviews

I am really starting to understand why George Bernard Shaw is held in such high regard in the literary world. He is an incredible writer. Shaw is one of the most opinionated authors that I have ever come across, but he writes in such a persuasive way that even if my opinion may differ, I still en...more

This is a play by the literary giant George Bernard Shaw. Shaw was of course a advocate of liberal and socialist thought. He was also a good friend and sparring partner with one of my favorites, G.K. Chesterton. This play is about a doctor who has recently been knighted for his development of a c...more

Very clever, makes cutting social points about death and the medical profession--still highly relevant (considering the ongoing NHS debates in the UK, or healthcare debate in the US for that matter..) One of my favourite quotes from the play: 'every profession is a conspiracy against the laity'....more


A hilarious play by a master!

A very funny but thought provoking play. It is quite relevant even today, though the event is from early 1900

It took me three hours to slog through the introduction, and I probably wouldn't have made it had I not been hunkered down at a Silent Reading Party. Shaw goes into great detail on his (now sufficiently outdated) criticisms of doctors and the medical profession, and his writing waxed tedious. Thi...more

Clever, witty English satire about doctors

Most of this play is, to be honest, nothing special, but it has one of the best death scenes I know. Louis Dubedat, a talented but morally bankrupt artist, is about to breathe his last:

LOUIS. Don't grieve, Walpole. I'm perfectly happy. I'm not in pain. I don't want to live. I've escap...more

I listened to this full cast audiobook while skimming/reading the play in my Kindle omnibus The Plays of Shaw.

I realized fairly quickly after starting this play that I had seen a film version of it with Leslie Caron. While I enjoyed listening to the play, I would recommend the 1958 movie over...more

Was there ever a play that George Bernard Shaw wrote for which he did not have a social agenda? And is there ever one of his plays in which it is not important for the reader or viewer to carefully read and consider his preface which clarifies that agenda and raises the questions Shaw means to tr...more

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