Like several of Shaw's early plays, The Devil's Disciple - first produced in 1897 and published in his collection Three Plays for Puritans in 1901 - takes an existing popular theatrical form, in this case melodrama, and adapts it to serve Shaw's dramatic purposes. Two of the ideals that Shaw sets out to attack in this play are the ideal of the family and the ideal of marriage. The play is set during the Revolutionary War and is the fictional story of Richard Dudgeon, an American hero. He revolts against the ideal of the family to the extent that he has rejected his own family. Identifying with the devil has prevented his spirit being taken over by his mother's life-denying religion. Though being a melodrama, it is not without humor, particularly in the character of General Burgoyne. It was Shaws first play that was financially successful and helped to assure his career as a playwright.