Woman Depicted in Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession Essay

Pages: 5 (1500 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports - Women

¶ … Woman Depicted in Shaw's

Mrs. Warren's Profession

Mrs. Warren's Profession by Bernard Shaw is play that explores the notions revolving around the idea of a modern woman. While we tend to think of modern women that have similar characteristics, they can be very different individuals with very different ideals, as the play demonstrates. Mrs. Warren is a modern woman in that she does what it takes to establish a stable life for her and her daughter. She is a savvy businesswoman and escapes the drudgery that made so many women of her time slaves. Vivie is also a modern woman in that she has made her living from her education and she is smart enough to know what she is worth. She is proud, confident, and not afraid of being perceived as businesslike if it means that she can provide for herself. There can be no doubt that both of these women are strong, independent, modern women but yet they are different. Mrs. Warren sees nothing wrong with the profession she has chosen because it has allowed her to prosper. Vivie cannot accept the fact that her mother could not eventually pull herself away from such a life once she had her feet firmly planted. The facts are not easily reconciled between the two even though we would think that two modern women could come to some sort of agreement. The complications that arise demonstrate how Mrs. Warren's Profession paints a very complicated picture of the modern woman.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Essay on Woman Depicted in Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession Assignment

Vivie is a modern woman in that she understands what it means to make her own choices. Vivie is a woman that certainly knows who she is and what she wants from life. She establishes early in the play how shrewd she is in making business decisions and she presents herself to Praed as a thoroughly modern woman. She does not consider things of beauty to be all that important since they do not fit into her line of work and can therefore make her no money or provide for her an opportunity to make money. She admits that if she was "going to be a waster, shifting along from one meal to another with no purpose, and no character, and no grit in me, I'd open an artery and bleed to death without one moment's hesitation" (1761). Here we see how she almost adopted a masculine way of looking at the world in order to survive in it. She quickly guards her position when she tells her mother that she "defended herself with the conventional superiority of a respectable woman" (1766) and when she tells her mother that she will respect her opinions and her way of life, she is asserting her position to be a modern and free thinking women. Another instance where we see how Vivie is modern occur when she states that she that people have more choices than they believe they do and she admits the she "does not believe in circumstances" (1766). Vivie is a modern woman because she has not let society tell her what she can and cannot do with her life. She has used the opportunities she has been given to her advantage and become an educated, self-confident woman.

Mrs. Warren is also a modern woman in that she found a way to make a comfortable life for herself and her daughter. She is also a modern woman in that she does not think that a woman needs to marry a man just to have a share of his money. The reality of her situation is very real and she is determined not to be penniless. When talking to Vivie, she is quick to let her know that she did not have the luxuries that Vivie grew up with and she did not get to "pick and choose" (1766) her way of life. She believes that she did well for herself in her profession considering the fact that she did not have a knack for music, acting, or writing. She exclaims that the hypocrisy of the world "makes me sick" (1678) when she considers how the world looks at and treats women. When discussing her profession with Vivie, she adds that she had to work hard to get what she had and she had to do this or else she would have become a "waster of a woman that thinks her luck will last forever" (1768), telling her that these people "have no character" and "if there's a thing I hate in a woman, it's want of character" (1768). Mrs. Warren is not just a successful businesswoman - she is actually proud of what she has done. She has not only lived a comfortable life but she has also provided Vivie with the means to advance to the kind of life she has now. Mrs. Warren did not just make money and have nothing to show for it. She was also savvy enough to continue with the business over years. At the end of the play, she tells Vivie how her lifestyle and the money obtained from it have allowed for her to have nice dresses and the "pick of all the gentlemen in Europe" (1789) at her feet. At the end of the play, she declares that she will "do wrong and nothing but wrong" (1790) from this day forward. She chastises Vivie for being so narrow-minded in her views, declaring, "Lord help the world if everybody took to doing the right thing!" (1790). She has divorced herself from the notion that what she is doing might be wrong because it is all she knows how to do. Regardless of what society thinks of her, Mrs. Warren is a modern woman because she has survived quite well and has done so without a man to boot.

Both women demonstrate how society plays a role in defining one's character. Mrs. Warren reveals this in her conversation with Vivie when she discusses society's interpretation of acceptable behavior. Mrs. Warren has a curious opinion about respectability and a person's character, which is revealed when she mentions her two half-sisters to Vivie. She says they were respectable but follows that with the fact that one died of lead poisoning from working in a whitelead factory all day and the other one married an alcoholic. She finishes her story by asking Vivie, "That was worth being respectable for, wasn't it?" (1767). This scene gives us input into her character and why she behaves the way she does. She quickly admits that these two girls got absolutely nothing but difficulty and even death for their respectability. Society offers a woman nothing and it is up to the woman to fight against the fact of being a woman be successful. Praed is surprised by her demeanor as she admits to him that she does not care for romance or beauty. She "likes working and getting paid for it" (1749) and when she is finished with her work, she is content with a "comfortable chair, a cigar, a little whiskey, and a novel with a good detective story in it" (1749). Here Vivie comes across as an independent women that does not need a man to make her happy or help her pay the bills. Both women have been influenced by the society in which they live. Mrs. Warren was forced to become a shrewd businesswoman because of her limited resources. She did well but her "industry" was one that was not well respected by many. Vivie is also influenced by her society in that she refused to become someone's wife and mother. In fact, she seemed to rebel against any traditional notions of women altogether.

Shaw demonstrates two very different impressions of a modern woman in Mrs. Warren's Profession. While we often tend to think of only… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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