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So much the better for you

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 05, 2006

In Reply to: So much the better for you posted by Smokey Stover on March 05, 2006

: : what is the meaning of "so much the better for you" in the context of Shaw's "Arms and The Man"?

: : Please?!

: "So" has many uses, but basically it's a word of comparison. So much better. How much better? THAT much better. If you want too be explicit, you will use the other element of the comparison, namely, "than." For example, "I'm feeling so much better than I did yesterday." "I performed so much better than you did." But "so" is an indefinite and incomplete quantity, and the sentences that I have just given are still a bit elliptical. To flesh them out, you might say, for instance, "I played so much better than you that I will be on the first string while you're sitting on the bench." "I'm feeling so much better now that I think I'll go out for a little run."

: However, in GBS's play it's undoubtedly meant a little sardonically. "So much the better for you" means "That (whatever the speaker is referring to) is an advantage for you, it is so much better for you [than not to have this advantage]." Normally one would just take this as a plain statement, meaning you're better off this way. With Shaw, there's always an edge. And with "so" there is very often some ellipsis. SS

I was so much caught up by your example that I misspoke. It would be so much better to think of "that" as completing the comparison started by "so" than "than." The word "than" completes "better," also a word of comparison requiring a complement, either explicit or tacit. We tend to use the word "so" so often that we don't bother to close the loop, leaving it hanging. It is the "that" clause that closes the loop. Have I made this ever so much clearer? SS