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. In the preface to Three Plays for Puritans he writes: “It does not contain a single even passably novel incident. Every old patron of the Adelphi [a theatre which specialized in melodrama] pit would […] recognize the reading of the will, the oppressed orphan finding a protector, the arrest, the heroic sacrifice, the court martial, the scaffold, the reprieve at the last moment, as he recognizes beefsteak pudding on the bill of fare at his restaurant.…
Newton, Ken. "The Devil's Disciple". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 22 January 2003; last revised 30 November -1.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=1103, accessed 18 April 2015.]