By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –
One of the most controversial aspects about society is the roles that women can be forced to play within it. Economic issues are among the many reasons that some people (and not just women) would do ANYTHING for money. Nevertheless, the profession that a person holds almost directly reflects one’s character, which is one of the main ideas explored within George Bernard Shaw’s classic play Mrs. Warren’s Profession.
Given the historical era in which this play was originally written, it was both revolutionary and scandalous when it had been performed on the stage. Vivie is a very practical heroine while Mrs. Warren is very sentimental. These two women are purposefully different even though they are mother and daughter so that Bernard Shaw could explore powerful themes while providing social commentary. The play beautifully explores compelling themes that are very relevant to modern times, including differing perceptions of morality, defiance of social convention, and the secrets and lies that prompt viewers to question the nature of the “new woman.” Societal expectations tend to fluctuate as time passes, which means that the classic contrast between men and women might always remain controversial even though this play was written long before the #MeToo movement that is still a hot topic in the entertainment world (as of 2019).
Many scholars praise the writings of classic British authors for their audacious stories that some would deem ahead of their times (with respect to each individual author and his or her own contributions to the literary canon). Bernard Shaw continues to achieve notoriety for his compelling heroines that advocated feminism around the same time that suffragettes fought for their right to vote. The world has changed a lot since the original stage premiere of Mrs. Warren’s Profession, but only time will tell if people would be willing to break the social barriers that commodify women so that people can (hopefully) bridge the gaps that attempt to separate men and women even though all people are fundamentally human regardless of their sex.
Mrs. Warren’s Profession (1972) Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time this play/TV adaptation explores male privilege
Drink a Shot: every time the characters treat love as a commodity
And Cheers: every time Mrs. Warren emphasizes the notion of “self-respect” in spite of her profession