illustration of a woman standing in a corset with a large scarf wrapped around her neck

Mrs. Warren's Profession

by George Bernard Shaw

Start Free Trial

What lesson is Shaw trying to teach with the play?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In his play Mrs. Warren's Profession, George Bernard Shaw shows us a series of dynamics that take place in the same plot. First, you have the topic central theme of the hypocrisy among the upper classes. Mrs. Warren is a former destitute who, in order to make a living, opens up a brother and works as a prostitute. She is living a righteous life, puts her daughter through school, and basically lives under the appearance of the rich while hiding the fact that her life earnings are based on vice.

The topic of unfairness among the classes, separation of social status, and hypocrisy are consistently touched upon by Victorian writers. The London society in the 19th century was as fashionable as it was classicist. They avowed by prudishness and virtue and did the exact opposite in their households. Mrs. Warren is an example of those women who hide their truths and joins the masquerade of society. In the end, she sadly paid for this with the rejection of her own daughter.

Shaw also aims to show through Vivie that not everyone in London thinks the same way. There are dissidents from the common behaviors of people who appreciate their independence no matter how uncommon it may seem. What separates Vivie from Kitty is the discovery of Kitty's hypocritical lifestyle. Maybe there is something to learn from Vivie's awkward and pseudo-masochistic behavior: Not everybody has to be content with the status quo. It is fine to be a rebel of society. In the end, at least those who are true to themselves end up safeguarding their dignity.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team