In 1906, George Bernard Shaw tackled a timeless debate of medicine and morality - how do doctors make ethical choices regarding the treatment of their patients? Do doctors prefer to take on and treat wealthy patients, rather than the poor? What are the ethics of such a decision? In The Doctor’s Dilemma, Sir Colenso Ridgeon has made a breakthrough discovery in the treatment of tuberculosis. However, because of the expense of this treatment, he has a limited number of patients that he can treat. Enter the beautiful Jennifer Dubedat, an enchanting woman whose husband is ill with tuberculosis. She begs Sir Colenso to save him, and so begins the doctor’s dilemma: The young man is a talented artist, but morally dubious character (and Sir Colenso is in love with his wife) - yet an old friend of the doctor’s, a poor man with little social value, needs treatment as well. Who does Sir Colenso save? And why? In this problem play, rife with satire and social commentary, Shaw tackles questions of moral responsibility as well as referencing new scientific and medical discoveries.
The Doctor's Dilemma guide sections