Described by his contemporaries as a master of impeccable prose, the great exploder of complacency, and a showman of ideas, George Bernard Shaw (18561950) is today regarded as the most important British comic dramatist since Cosgreve. Heartbreak House, however, is one of Shaw's more somber plays. An allegory that examines apathy, confusion, and lack of purpose as causes of major world problems, the drama features larger-than-life characters who represent evils of the modern world. Initially pessimistic, the play nevertheless ends on an optimistic note. Written in 1913 and first produced in 1923, Heartbreak House, with its portrayal of a bored and frustrated upper-middle class, is a prime example of Shaw's unconventional and provocative literary style.