Paper on the play "Mrs. Warren Profession" (1894) by Bernard Shaw - Conventionality: Morality over Choice

Essay by CronyHigh School, 12th gradeA-, June 2006

download word file, 7 pages 4.0

During the Victorian Era, prostitution was seen with a disapproving eye, but sadly, prostitution was a supplemental form of income for many working-class girls. Bernard Shaw's play Mrs. Warren's Profession (1894), is considered by most to illustrate Mrs. Warren - the protagonist who values traditional thought - to be more conventional than her independence-seeking daughter Vivie Warren. The conventional thought and behavior of the early nineteenth century is present in Mrs. Warren's character, an individual that leans toward the majority of society. But one cannot ignore the moral point of view evident in Vivie's persona that makes her stand out as a woman that will stand for what she thinks is right. Shaw creates a conflict between these two different views of mother and daughter revolving around manners, choice of work, and moral values of each individual. The overwhelming amount of evidence points to Mrs. Warren's as being the epitome of conventionality, and Vivie her direct opposite; however the contrary is true because Vivie Warren is indeed the more traditional of the two.

Mrs. Warren exudes the conventional characteristics of an early nineteenth century woman with her manners and customs. She wanted her daughter to "let Sir George help [her] with the chairs", typical of a woman that values the generosity of the male figure (Shaw, Act 1). She is woman used to the man-dependent way of life with a mentality that woman will need male influence to be successful in life.

The lady-like atmosphere however, is not present in Vivie's agenda and the independence she possesses is acknowledgeable with her manners. Early in play Vivie tells Praed that she will "go get [him] a chair," and unlike Mrs. Warren, she feels she is very much capable of doing the generosities usually assigned for men(Shaw, Act I). Vivie knows...