Friday, August 24, 2018
Mrs. Warren's Profession Paperback by George Bernard Shaw (Watchmaker Publishing )
I could go on and on about how much I loved reading Mrs. Warren's Profession, but I won't; I will only briefly touch upon it. Shaw's writing is brilliant, and it kept me entertaining for the entirety of the time that I spent reading this four-act play. I want to say more, but I find myself unable to come up with the right words. Instead, I will discuss the historical significance of this play.
After reading Toni Morrison's Beloved, I realized that a story is more than just a story. There are characters and settings, but there is also underlying significance buried underneath every page. Shaw, I think, is the master of this idea, even though Mrs. Warren's Profession came about half a century before Beloved. Shaw perfects this technique in the format of a staged work, while Morrison does so in the world of Postmodernism.
The main idea behind Shavian works is the struggle between social classes in England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Having performed in Shaw's Pygmalion as a parlor maid, I was granted the luxury of looking through Shaw's eye at the British hierarchy, and I wasn't too caught up in a complex character. I really got to absorb this system, and I was granted another chance to do so when I read Mrs. Warren's Profession.
Characters such as Kitty Warren and Eliza Doolittle have risen through the social ranks (though not always in the most virtuous of ways) with the help of nefarious figures like Sir George Crofts and Henry Higgins. The whole focus of Shaw's works is the lack of innocence in this social advancement, and the strains put upon family by the will to be more respected. It's basically a big old "Who cares?!" to the social system. Families are families, and chances are a parent will care about a child, and vice versa, even if they don't have a ton of money.
Shaw really puts a lot of emphasis on family ties and the social hierarchy. Even though it was first staged over a century ago, Mrs. Warren's Profession is still extremely relevant, and therefore still extremely important. That's what makes it worth reading.