Mrs. Warren’s Profession

This paper analyzes Shaws play from an historical and moral perspective. The title of the play refers to Mrs Warren’s profession of prostitution. It explains that in the late 1800’s when the play was first produced, there was a lot of outcry and calls for its censorship. The plot of the play is explained and examined for what could have been considered offensive in nature. The paper shows how morals have developed and progressed and why the play is no longer considered “shocking. ” From the Paper: “From the time when it was written in 1893, George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession was a problem for the playwright because of censorship.

The profession alluded to in the title is prostitution, and Victorians did not like to admit publicly that such a thing existed, let alone allow a play to be performed in which the activity was in some sense celebrated. Modern reaction is very different from what Shaw’s contemporaries would write when the play was finally performed in 1902. Early criticism focused more on the subject matter displayed than on the play as a piece of drama, while contemporary criticism turns this around and looks at the play as a play before considering any morality involved in talking about prostitution or treating it less than harshly. This paper reviews George Bernard Shaw’s play “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” and discusses how Mrs. Warren? s secretive profession lies at the core of the relationship between Mrs. Warren and her daughter, Vivie. The income derived from her profession, running several bordello houses in continental Europe, takes Mrs. Warren physically away from her daughter but has allowed Mrs. Warren to provide Vivie with the lifestyle and education, which only people from the upper class can afford.

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It analyzes how Vivie’s perception of her relationship with her mother may seem brutal, but truthful and how without experiencing the intimacy and love of a mother, the grown-up Vivie — who is cynical of her relationship to her mother because the latter is a virtual stranger — eventually sees that their only connection is monetary. From the Paper: “In her proud and flaunting confession about her pseudo holiday in London to a total stranger (Shaw 38; Act I), Vivie demonstrates her audacity and complete lack of concern that she may be “caught” by her mother. On the other hand, Mrs. Warren is clueless to Vivie’s activities and interests. Vivie’s description of her holiday in London illustrates she is creating an existence of financial independence and passion for actuarial calculations, which is divorced from Mrs. Warren’s ideal conception of her daughter’s life. Although Mrs. Warren thinks her daughter is still dependent on her for her affluent lifestyle that includes sightseeing in London, Vivie “[has been] initiated into the business” of Chancery Lane and paid off her expenses. Ironically, Vivie’s “secret” project behind her mother’s back will become completely dwarfed by her mother’s greater life of secrecy. “

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