Shaw: Mrs. Warren & # 8217 ; s Profession Essay, Research Paper
MRS. WARREN & # 8217 ; S PROFESSIONMRS. WARREN is engaged in a profession which has existed through all the ages. It was at place in Egypt, played an of import function in Greece and Rome, formed one of the influential clubs in the Middle Ages, and has been one of the chief beginnings of income for the Christian Church.But it was left to modern times to do of Mrs. Warren & # 8217 ; s profession a enormous societal factor, ministering to the demands of adult male in every station of life, from the brownstone sign of the zodiac to the hut, from the highest functionary to the poorest drag.Time was when the Mrs. Warrens were looked upon as possessed by the Satan, -lewd, depraved animals who would non, even if they had the pick, engage in any other profession, because they are barbarous at bosom, and should hence be held up to disapprobation and opprobrium. And while we continue to drive them from pillar to post, while we still penalize them as felons and deny them the simplest humanistic disciplines one gives even to the dense animal, the visible radiation turned on this topic by work forces like George Bernard Shaw has helped to expose the prevarication of built-in evil inclinations and natural corruption. Alternatively we learn: Mrs. Warren. Do you believe I did what I did be cause I liked it, or thought it right, or wouldn & # 8217 ; t instead hold gone to college and been a lady if I & # 8217 ; vitamin D had the opportunity? . . . Oh, it & # 8217 ; s easy to speak, really easy, isn & # 8217 ; t it? Here! & # 8211 ; Would you like to cognize what my fortunes were? D & # 8217 ; you know what your nan & # 8217 ; female parent was? No, you don & # 8217 ; t. I do. She called herself a widow and had a fried-fish store down by the Mint, and kept herself and four girls out of it. Two of us were sisters: that was me and Liz ; and we were both good looking and good made. I suppose our male parent was a well fedman: female parent pretended he was a gentleman ; but I don & # 8217 ; T know. The other two were merely half sisters-under sized, ugly, starved, difficult working, honorable hapless animals: Liz and I would hold half murdered them if female parent hadn & # 8217 ; t half murdered us to maintain our custodies off them. They were the respectable 1s. Well, what did they acquire by their reputability? I & # 8217 ; ll state you. One of them worked in a whitelead mill 12 hours a twenty-four hours for nine shillings a hebdomad until she died of lead toxic condition. She merely expected to acquire her custodies a small paralytic ; but she died. The other was ever held up to us as a theoretical account because she married a Government labourer in the Deptford victualling yard, and kept his room and the three kids orderly and tidy on 18 shillings a hebdomad & # 8211 ; until he took to imbibe. That was deserving being respectable for, wasn & # 8217 ; t it? Vivie. Did you and your sister think so? Mrs. Warren. Liz didn & # 8217 ; T, I can state you ; she had more spirit. We both went to a Church School & # 8211 ; that was portion of the lady-like pose we gave ourselves to be superior to the kids that knew nil and went no where & # 8211 ; and we stayed there until Liz went out one dark and ne’er came back. I knew the schoolmarm thought I & # 8217 ; d shortly follow her illustration ; for the reverend was ever warning me that Lizzie & # 8216 ; 500 terminal by leaping off Waterloo Bridge. Poor sap: that was all that he knew about it! But I was more afraid of the whitelead mill than I was of the river ; and so would you have been in my topographic point. That reverend got me a state of affairs as a scullery amah in a moderation eating house where they sent out for anything you liked. Then I was waitress ; and so I went to the saloon at Waterloo Station-fourteen hours a twenty-four hours seeing drinks and rinsing spectacless for four shillings a hebdomad and my board. That was considered a great publicity for me. Well, one cold, wretched dark, when I was so tired I could barely maintain myself awake, who should come up for a half of Scotch but Lizzie, in a long pelt cloak, elegant and comfy, with a batch of crowned heads in her purse.Vivie. My aunt Lizzie? Mrs. Warren. Yes & # 8230 ; . She & # 8217 ; s populating down at Winchester, now, dose to the cathedral, one of the most respectable ladies there & # 8211 ; chaperones misss at the state ball, if you please. No river for Liz, thank you! You remind me of Liz a small: she was a ace concern adult female & # 8211 ; saved money from the beginning & # 8211 ; ne’er allow herself look excessively like what she was & # 8211 ; ne’er lost her caput or threw away a opportunity. When she saw I & # 8217 ; d turn up good-looking she said to me across the saloon: & # 8220 ; What are you making at that place, you small sap? Wearing out your wellness and your visual aspect for other people & # 8217 ; s net income! & # 8221 ; Liz was salvaging money so to take a house for herself in Brussels: and she thought we two could salvage faster than one. So she lent me some money and gave me a start ; and I saved steadily and first paid her back, and so went into concern with her as her spouse. Why shouldn & # 8217 ; T I have done it? The house in Brussels was existent high category & # 8211 ; a much better topographic point for a adult female to be in than the mill where Anne Jane got poisoned. None of our misss were of all time treated as I was treated in the scullery of that moderation topographic point, or at the Waterloo saloon, or at place. Would you hold had me remain in them and go a raddled old hack before I was forty? . . . Yes, salvaging money. But where can a adult female acquire the money to salvage in any other concern? Could you save out of four shillings a hebdomad and maintain yourself dressed every bit good? Not you. Of class, if you & # 8217 ; re a field adult female and can & # 8217 ; t gain anything more: or if you have a bend for music, or the phase, or newspaper authorship: that & # 8217 ; s different. But neither Liz nor I had any bend for such things: all we had was our visual aspect and our bend for delighting work forces. Do you believe we were such saps as to allow other people trade in our good expressions by using us as shop-girls, or barmaids, or waitresses, when we could merchandise in them ourselves and acquire all the net incomes alternatively of famishment rewards? Not likely & # 8230 ; . Everybody dislikes holding to work and do money ; but they have to make it all the same. I & # 8217 ; thousand sure I & # 8217 ; ve frequently pitied a hapless miss, tired out and in low liquors, holding to seek to delight some adult male that she doesn & # 8217 ; t care two straws for & # 8211 ; some half-drunken sap that thinks he & # 8217 ; s doing himself agreeable when he & # 8217 ; s tease and badgering and gross outing a adult female so that barely any money could pay her for seting up with it. But she has to bear with disagreeables and take the rough with the smooth, merely like a nurse in a infirmary or anyone else. It & # 8217 ; s non work that any adult female would make for pleasance, goodness knows ; though to hear the pious people talk you would say it was a bed of roses. Of class it & # 8217 ; s worth while to a hapless miss, if she can defy enticement and is good looking and well-conducted and reasonable It & # 8217 ; s far better than any other employment unfastened to her. I ever thought that oughtn & # 8217 ; T to be. It can & # 8217 ; t be right, Vivie, that there shouldn & # 8217 ; t be better chances for adult females. I stick to that: It & # 8217 ; s incorrect. But it & # 8217 ; s so, right or incorrect ; and a miss must do the best of it. But, of class, it & # 8217 ; s non worth while for a lady. If you took to it you & # 8217 ; vitamin D be a sap ; but I should hold been a sap if I & # 8217 ; d taken to anything else & # 8230 ; . Why am I independent and able to give my girl a ace instruction, when other adult females that had merely every bit good chances are in the trough? Because I ever knew how to esteem myself and command myself. Why is Liz looked up to in a cathedral town? The same ground. Where would we be now if we & # 8217 ; vitamin D minded the reverend & # 8217 ; s foolishness? Scrubing floors for one and sixpence a twenty-four hours and nil to look forard to but the workhouse infirmary. Don & # 8217 ; t you be led astr
ay by people who don’t know the world, my girt The only way for a woman to provide for herself decently is for her to be good to some man that can afford to be good to her. If she’s in his own station of life, let her make him marry her; but if she’s far beneath him, she can’t expect it–why should she? It wouldn’t be for her own happiness. Ask any lady in London society that has daughters; and she’ll tell you the same, except that I tell you straight and she’ll tell you crooked. That’s all the difference…. It’s only good manners to be ashamed of it; it’s expected from a woman. Women have to pretend a great deal that they don’t feel. Liz used to be angry with me for plumping out the truth about it. She used to say that when every woman would learn enough from what was going on in the world before her eyes, there was no need to talk about it to her. But then Liz was such a perfect lady! She had the true instinct of it; while I was always a bit of a vulgarian. I used to be so pleased when you sent me your photographs to see that you were growing up like Liz; you’ve just her lady-like determined way. But I can’t stand saying one thing when everyone knows I mean another. What’s the use in such hypocrisy? If people arrange the world that way for women, there’s no use pretending that it’s arranged the other way. I never was a bit ashamed really. I consider that I had a right to be proud that we managed everything so respectably, and never had a word against us, and that the girls were so well taken care of. Some of them did very well: one of them married an ambassador. But of course now I daren’t talk about such things: whatever would they think of us.No, it is not respectable to talk about these things, because respectability cannot face the truth. Yet everybody knows that the majority of women, “if they wish to provide for themselves decently must be good to some man that can afford to be good to them.” The only difference then between Sister Liz, the respectable girl, and Mrs. Warren, is hypocrisy and legal sanction. Sister Liz uses her money to buy back her reputation from the Church and Society. The respectable girl uses the sanction of the Church to buy a decent income legitimately, and Mrs. Warren plays her game without the sanction of either. Hence she is the greatest criminal in the eyes of the world. Yet Mrs. Warren is no less human than most other women. In fact, as far as her love for her daughter Vivian is concerned, she is a superior sort of mother. That her daughter may not have to face the same alternative as she, — slave in a scullery for four shillings a week — Mrs. Warren surrounds the girl with comfort and ease, gives her an education, and thereby establishes between her child and herself an abyss which nothing can bridge. Few respectable mothers would do as much for their daughters. However, Mrs. Warren remains the outcast, while all those who benefit by her profession, including even her daughter Vivian, move in the best circles.Sir John Crofts, Mrs. Warren’s business partner, who has invested 40,000 pounds in Mrs. Warren’s house, drawing an income of 35 percent. out of it in the worst years, is a recognized pillar of society and an honored member of his class. Why not!Crofts. The fact is, it’s not what would be considered exactly a high-class business in my set–the county set, you know…. Not that there is any mystery about it: don’t think that. Of course you know by your mother’s being in it that it’s perfectly straight and honest. I’ve known her for many years; and I can say of her that she’d cut off her hands sooner than touch anything that was not what it ought to be…. But you see you can’t mention such things in society. Once let out the word hotel and everybody says you keep a public-house. You wouldn’t like people to say that of your mother, would you? That’s why we’re so reserved about it…. Don’t turn up your nose at business, Miss Vivie: where would your Newnhams and Girtons be without it? . . . You wouldn’t refuse the acquaintance of my mother’s cousin, the Duke of Belgravia, because some of the rents he gets are earned in queer ways. You wouldn’t cut the Archbishop of Canterbury, I suppose, because the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have a few publicans and sinners among their tenants? Do you remember your Crofts scholarship at Newnham? Well, that was founded by my brother the M.P. He gets his 22 per cent. out of a factory with 600 girls in it, and not one of them getting wages enough to live on. How d’ ye suppose most of them manage? Ask your mother. And do you expect me to turn my back on 35 per cent. when all the rest are pocketing what they can, like sensible men? No such fool! If you’re going to pick and choose your acquaintances on moral principles, you’d better clear out of this country, unless you want to cut yourself out of all decent society…. The world isn’t such a bad place as the croakers make out. So long as you don’t fly openly in the face of society, society doesn’t ask any inconvenient questions; and it makes precious short work of the cads who do. There are no secrets better kept than the secrets that everybody guesses. In the society I can introduce you to, no lady or gentleman would so far forget themselves as to discuss my business affairs or your mother’s.Indeed, no lady or gentleman would discuss the profession of Mrs. Warren and her confreres. But they partake of the dividends. When the. evil becomes too crying, they engage in vice crusades, and call down the wrath of the Lord and the brutality of the police upon the Mrs. Warrens and her victims. While the victimizers, the Crofts, the Canterburys, Rev. Gardner–Vivian’s own father and pious mouthpiece of the Church–and the other patrons of Mrs. Warren’s houses parade as the protectors of woman, the home and the family.To-day no one of the least intelligence denies the cruelty, the injustice, the outrage of such a state of affairs, any more than it is being denied that the training of woman as a sex commodity has left her any other source of income except to sell herself to one man within marriage or to many men outside of marriage. Only bigots and inexperienced girls like Vivian can say that “everybody has some choice. The poorest girl alive may not be able to choose between being Queen of England or Principal of Newnham; but she can choose between rag-picking and flower-selling, according to her taste.”It is astonishing how little education and college degrees teach people. Had Vivian compelled to shift for herself, she would have discovered that neither rag-picking nor flower-selling brings enough to satisfy one’s “taste.” It is not a question of choice, but of necessity, which is the determining factor in most people’s lives.When Shaw flung Mrs. Warren into the smug midst of society, even the educated Vivians knew little of the compelling force which whips thousands of women into prostitution. As to the ignorant, their minds are a mental and spiritual desert. Naturally the play caused consternation. It still continues to serve as the red rag to the social bull. “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” infuriates because it goes to the bottom of our evils; because it places the accusing finger upon the sorest and most damnable spot in our social fabric–SEX as woman’s only commodity in the competitive market of life. “An immoral and heretical play,” indeed, of very deep social sign significance.