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Mrs. Warren's Profession (Dodo Press)

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  3,600 Ratings  ·  153 Reviews
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was a worldrenowned Irish author. Born in Dublin, he moved to London when he turned twenty. Having rejected formal schooling, he educated himself by independent study in the reading room of the British Museum; he also began his career there by writing novels for which he could not find a publisher. His first success was as a music and litera ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published October 19th 2007 by Dodo Press (first published 1898)
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Petra Eggs
May 05, 2015 Petra Eggs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, poetry-drama
Getting Biblical about this, should the sins of the fathers be visited upon the children unto the tenth generation? Does this apply to mothers too? Or shall we be a bit more modern and forgiving about it? The daughter in this play took the hard Biblical line and applied it to her mother too, cutting her off from all contact when she found out that her extremely privileged youth and expensive education as a lawyer had been paid for by her mother's hard work first on her back and secondly running ...more
Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈

Read a play

I know that this play is a classic and there are a lot of people who like it. It just didn't do it for me. I thought it was boring and pretentious, and I literally hated every single character in it. Basically the plot centers around a middle-aged Mrs. Warren and her young adult daughter, Vivie. Mrs. Warren, or Kitty as many gentlemen call her, was absent for much of Vivie's childhood, and Vivie grew up a bit resentful and very independent. She studied hard and went to college, and ha
May 16, 2010 Cecily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
George Bernard Shaw was ahead of his time, and this play was banned when it was written (1893).

It exposes the hypocrisy of a society that condemns those who are not chaste, but does little to assuage the poverty that leaves some women few alternatives to survive (similar territory to JB Priestly's "The Inspector Calls", set less than 20 years later). Equally controversially, it makes a strident case for women's emancipation in general, whilst retaining Shaw's peppering of acerbic wit (Wilde wit
J.G. Keely
Of the Shaw I read in my short stint as a dramaturg, this was my favorite. It bears all his hallmarks: feisty women choosing between an artist and a businessman, a basic farcical British romance plot, a hypocritical priest, lots of quipping about philosophy, and attempts to make the characters vivid and surprising.

At the latter task, he succeeds more in this book than in any of the others, truly turning the form of the light comedy on its head and committing to Ibsenesque realism. He still captu
Sep 12, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We get a more vivid picture of Shaw's style of social commentary-- again, there are no true protagonists and all characters are to blame (since they all belong in a certain spot in this aformentioned society). The men circle Mrs. Warren's daughter like sharks-- they are crazy post-Victorians who treat the "elephant in the room" (in this case, prostitution) as a mere triviality. It is not as witty as say, O. Wilde, but it exposes great truths in hyper-articulate strings of dialogue. I really enjo ...more
Apr 10, 2014 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Any play by George Bernard Shaw deserves a careful reading of his extended introduction, his introductions always clarifying his intent and motivation in writing the particular play he is presenting. This present introduction is no exception, and without a knowledge of his perceptions and goals the reader will find the play much less satisfying.

Mrs. Warren is a brothel keeper, the part-owner of a string of brothels across Europe from which she derives the income that has enabled her daughter Viv
Yet again a powerful play by Shaw wherein he makes an attempt to contradict the society’s norms and people’s hypocrisy towards it .

In ‘Mrs. Warren’s Profession’ Shaw shows how a mother’s profession turns a daughter’s life upside down.

Vivie (the daughter) is a highly educated woman, who wants to lead her life independently according to her own terms. She strongly believes in- simple living and high thinking, where as her mother Mrs Warren wants Vivie to flaunt her beauty and get herself a husba
Typical Shaw! Amazing in its incisive insight into the bourgeoisie's hypocritical pretensions to moral goodness. Vivie Warren is a university educated young woman. She is unaware of the fact that her mother Mrs. Warren's profession was prostitution and that she is now the owner of several successfully running brothel houses. When she realizes the "shocking" truth, she boldly disowns her mother and her wealth. She wants to lead the life of an honest hardworking woman. What she fails to see is tha ...more
Eric Kibler
Nov 06, 2015 Eric Kibler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This play of Shaw's was controversial when it was first performed.

A young woman, who has been well brought up and expensively educated by her well-to-do mother, finds out that her mother was a prostitute, then a madam. Mrs. Warren defends herself by telling her daughter that, given her limited opportunities, prostitution was the best option available to her. Society, by offering only starvation or the slavery of marriage to poor young women, conspired to make it so.

This play is thought-provoking
Oct 22, 2016 Marianna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, feminism
Shaw may or may not have become my favourite playwriter!
Very forward for its time, it deals with issues that are taboo even to this day, let alone the 19th century.
May 10, 2010 Yngvild rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
Rereading Mrs Warren’s Profession after several years, the surprise was how little we would need to change it to play it in modern dress. A daughter, having consumed an expensive education, discovers that her natural mother is a vulgarian working on the fringes of society, and decides to ostracise her from then on. In variation, it is the same theme as Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, which did the same thing thirty years earlier with a son and his ex-criminal benefactor. We could repeat the ...more
Mar 12, 2013 Manny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katie Lumsden
Oct 06, 2016 Katie Lumsden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting read, especially if you're interested in moral ideas in the Victorian period. Great dialogue too and easy to read. I must read more by George Bernard Shaw!
Jul 17, 2012 Miguel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mrs. Warren's Profession is an engaging play that questions the conventional morality of the Victorian period with a question that still persists today, namely the moral status of participation in the practice of prostitution whether it is as a prostitute or brothel owner.

The play is particularly fantastic due to the vividness of the characters and their personalities and, of course, the subject matter it explores. Vivie is immediately lovable and interesting to both the reader and the character
Aug 30, 2015 Francesca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised by how ahead of its time this play was. This is a play about a woman living in the Victorian age who every expects her to be a typical Victorian Woman by wanting to be married and live off of her husband's money. However, this is not how the Vivie, the protagonist, wants to live. She is a fresh from college, and sees life in a logical way not a romantic art way. She wants to live independently off of her own money she has worked hard for, only no one understands this. She is also ...more
February 1, 2014:
I read this play for the Modern British Drama class I'm taking at the university I attend. I found this one to be pretty interesting and I'm looking forward to reading more if Shaw's work.

January 14, 2017:
Re-reading this play 3 years later, to help my boyfriend get happily through a class where this is required reading. Found it strikingly similar to Widower's Houses in terms of the overall takeaway, despite the main characters of each having different stances at the end of each
Aug 08, 2010 Sherry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When George Bernard's play Mrs. Warren's Profession was first performed in London, there was great protest. Nice people should not see plays about the sexual slavery of young women. Even though the practice was rampant in London at the time. Shaw writes an eloquent play exploring the emotional effects of this horrible practice from all sides. I re-read again in 2005. I directed it in 2006.
Adam Floridia
Entertaining social commentary (albeit now dated) in the form a play about the causes of prostitution. Shaw's experiments with language and paradoxically (I say this because of the subject matter) feminist views merit significant thought.
Paul Dinger
Jul 14, 2009 Paul Dinger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is a funny play about a madam of a house of prostitution that somehow manages not to use that word. I found this play to be highly entertaining, a view of a wierd family dynamic and how it comes apart. Shaw is rarely staged in the U. S. and this is a shame. I want to discover more by him.
Wendy E.
Apr 28, 2011 Wendy E. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-lit-ib
I'm glad to have finally read this one. Very interesting stuff. I'd like to pair this with Ibsen's Doll's House and teach them.
Mar 24, 2016 Tomo20 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shocking in its day, I found the play witty, socially progressive (for its time and perhaps now) and entertaining.
Jun 19, 2016 Nicholas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed this one.
Jul 09, 2014 Kaethe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Shaw when he's an earnest social reformer. Funny how little has changed in 100 years.
Courtney Savage
I liked this. It wasn't bad and it wasn't amazing, but it was a short and enjoyable read. I know it is a controversial play because it exposes the hypocrisy of the time that it was written, but I liked its underlying message of feminism and of the rejection of social norms.

A little on the characters:
-Vivie is a bit hollow but she also knows what she stands for and knows what is important to her. I like that her character remains true to herself throughout
-Mrs. Warren is really dramatic I felt,
Nov 27, 2016 Kyra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-assigned
Super interesting concept. I think this would probably translate better to the stage than it read - particularly Frank's character. But overall, not a bad read, and a very interesting topic to analyze & Vivie stands as a unique and complex woman to follow through this series of revelations. I also think it makes some interesting statements about poverty and the morality of "the profession." At one point, Vivie mentions "fashionable morality," which really serves as a biting critique of the t ...more
Elizabeth Chang
Well....I admit....I'm quite disappointed.

The blurb sounded interesting enough....but the actual story......blah.

Perhaps I'm reading it too quickly....or maybe the importance hasn't seeped in yet...but....I don't see the point of this story!

It seems to me that the protagonist ends up exactly like how she was at the beginning.....

All that really happened was...a couple of hurt feelings....and...the protagonist found out some stuff about her mom.....but.....other than that.....meh.
Dec 12, 2016 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Loved the sarcasm and characters!
Jan 17, 2017 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kirsty Potter
Oct 20, 2016 Kirsty Potter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uni, girl-power
A product of Victorian society that basically insults everything said society stands for. A great play and critique of gender roles, the marriage institution, organised religion, the lack of women's professions...the list goes on. Vivie is awesome.
One of the things that stuck out to me in this was the way that Shaw was willing to examine the complexities of difficult social issues. This play discusses the fact that there is often a reason for why people fall into lives of prostitution, crime, or depravity—and often we, as a greedy, consumerist society, are to blame. Vivie understood why her mother went into prostitution. She accepts that her mother doesn’t even know who Vivie’s father is. She even admitted that she probably would have don ...more
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George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright, socialist, and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama. Over the course of his life he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his plays address prevailing social problems, but ...more
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“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them.” 900 likes
“All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently, the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.” 160 likes
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