Mrs. Warren’s Profession

by

George Bernard Shaw

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Mrs. Warren’s Profession Themes

Themes and Colors
Exploitation of Women Theme Icon
Sex, Money, Marriage, Prostitution, and Incest Theme Icon
Class, Respectability, Morality, and Complicity Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Mrs. Warren’s Profession, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Exploitation of Women

Mrs. Warren’s Profession forces its audience to consider the problem of the exploitation of women in British society. The play challenges the idea that working as a prostitute is immoral, suggesting instead that society is immoral because it limits opportunities for women, often making prostitution the safest and most lucrative work available to them. The play suggests that a variety of individuals share personal responsibility for women’s exploitation, ranging from those who invest in brothels…

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Sex, Money, Marriage, Prostitution, and Incest

Mrs. Warren’s Profession depicts a society tainted by the sale of sex. A mother is portrayed as a madam who may try to sell her daughter, and a young woman’s suitors might also be her father or brother. The play shows that this impure tangle of relationships is the natural result of the pervasive buying and selling of sex, whether through marriage or prostitution, and of the treatment of women as interchangeable, commodified sexual objects…

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Class, Respectability, Morality, and Complicity

Mrs. Warren’s Profession skewers the immorality and sentimentality of the values and norms of British society, suggesting that the hypocrisy, corruption, and injustice of the British social system infects everyone affiliated with it. Shaw’s nuanced depiction of the different ways in which the poor, middle-class, and rich uphold oppressive social norms suggests that nobody is pure and, as such, the only way to fix the system is to be honest and straightforward about how it…

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Intergenerational Conflict

Mrs. Warren’s Profession portrays two parent-child relationships in which the children reject sentimental ideas about familial duty. Frank and Vivie share a belief that they should judge their parents based on their parents’ behavior and values, treating their parents only as well as they deserve to be treated. In keeping with Victorian views on the respect owed to parents, however, Mrs. Warren and Reverend Gardner expect Frank and Vivie to respect them and take their…

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