Kitty and Vivie Warren in G.B. Shaws "Mrs. Warren's Profression" - Different Women Struggling for the Same Aim

Seminar Paper, 2003

9 Pages, Grade: very good


List of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The lives of Vivie and Kitty Warren

3. Two women – two different characters

4. Mother and Daughter – A Complex Relation

5. Two women struggling for independence

6. Result


1. Introduction

In 1894 George Bernard Shaw wrote a play about prostitution called ”Mrs Warren’s Pro-fession”. In Queen Victoria’s days it was forbidden to stage the play by censorship because of the shown decay and all the public theatres did not dare it. In 1902 a private theatre company that often staged forbidden plays in those days – the Stage Society – decided to perform it.[1]

But there is not only the aspect of prostitution dealt with in Shaw’s play. This essay will look into the relationship of Mrs Kitty Warren and her daughter Vivie, two totally different women who try to cope with life. For this reason their different ways of life shall be described and they shall be characterised. Afterwards their concepts of life will be compared and the conflict between mother and daughter will be examined. But the essay will not only contrast the two women but also show the similarities between them.

2. The Lives of Kitty and Vivie Warren

Kitty Warren grows up in poor circumstances with her mother, her sister Liz and her two half-sisters. She has never met her father. One of her half-sisters dies of lead poisoning because she works in a whitelead factory; the other one marries and has to live with an alcoholic who treats her bad. Kitty goes to a church school with her sister Liz. One day Liz goes out and doesn’t come back so Kitty is alone. She starts working as a scullery maid in a restaurant where she has to work hard for little money. There she happens to meet her sister Liz again who is rich because she is working as a prostitute. Kitty decides to follow her and becomes a prostitute herself. Over the years she brings up a chain of brothels across Europe and gets very wealthy. She gets a daughter named Vivie but doesn’t have much contact with her. Although Kitty doesn’t need the brothel-business any longer to survive she continues it because she has started to like it. Because of her profession Kitty is separated from her family and the respectable society.

Her daughter Vivie grows up in a completely different world than her mother. Kitty supports her daughter with money and gives her the opportunity to get an excellent education. But there is only little contact between them and they do not know much about each other. Vivie does not even know her mother’s profession. She grows up without her mother or any other relatives; she does not even know who her father is. When Vivie is a little older she goes to Cambridge to study Mathematics and finishes college with a very high degree. Later, she starts working at a chamber for acturial calculations. Vivie Warren has not much contact with

other people, neither with other girls of her age nor romantic affairs.

Although they are mother and daughter they have never had much contact in their lives. The first time they meet for more than one or two days and the first time they really talk to each other is when Vivie is about 20.

3. Two women – two different characters

There are not only differences in the lives of mother and daughter but also in their characters. Kitty is a prostitute that lives off her suitor’s money. That makes her being dependent on men. In spite of that Kitty behaves elegant and proud. Her behaviour is a lady’s one. She acts like a woman of wealth and power[2] who knows who she is. Kitty loves the economical life standard she has achieved:

Do you know how rich I am? […] It means a new dress every day; it means theatres and balls every night; it means having the pick of all the gentlemen in Europe at your feet; it means a lovely house and plenty of servants; it means the choicest of eating and drinking; it means everything you like, everything you want[…]”[3]

Vivie is very different from that. She is an emancipated woman that breaks out of the doll’s house – like world Kitty creates in Vivie’s childhood.[4] In her business-like, self-reliant and unfeminine[5] way she is completely the opposite of her mother who uses her feminine style to earn money. Vivie is a girl who acts in a rational way. That might even be the reason why she decided to study Mathematics, a rather uncommon thing for a woman at those days. Money is also important for her because she wants to be successful but she does not need the money to buy beautiful dresses and go to parties every night: I must have work, and must make more money than I spend.[6]

Because of her brothels Kitty has a frequent close contact with men, she has the turn for pleasing men [7] as she calls it. She does not only need men to earn money but she also likes flirting with them and have them looking up to her. This is also shown in the play in the way Kitty behaves in talking to the men, no matter if it is Praed, Crofts, the reverend or even young Frank. Vivie’s behaviour is not a bit like her mother’s. She does not flirt with one of them. First she rejects Croft’s proposal, afterwards Frank’s. Her behaviour is rather cool, often mocking, sometimes even cruel and arrogant.


[1] Shaw, George Bernard: Preface of Mrs Warren’s Profession. In: Plays Unpleasant. Harmondsworth: Penguin.1975. pp.181-182.

[2] Crompten, Louis: Shaw the Dramatist. A Study of the Intellectual Background of the Major Plays. London: George Allen& Unwin Ltd. 1971. p.8.

[3] Shaw, George Bernard: Mrs Warren’s Profession. In: Plays Unpleasant. Harmondsworth: Penguin. 1975.p.281

[4] Dukore, Bernard F.: Bernard Shaw. Playwright Aspects of Shavian Drama. Columbia: University of Missouri Press. 1973. p. 73.

[5] Dukore p.73.

[6] Shaw: Mrs Warren’s Profession 284.

[7] Shaw: Mrs Warren’s Profession 249.

Excerpt out of 9 pages


Kitty and Vivie Warren in G.B. Shaws "Mrs. Warren's Profression" - Different Women Struggling for the Same Aim
University of Hannover  (English Seminar)
very good
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
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495 KB
Kitty, Vivie, Warren, Shaws, Warren, Profression, Different, Women, Struggling, Same
Quote paper
Jasmin Ostermeyer (Author), 2003, Kitty and Vivie Warren in G.B. Shaws "Mrs. Warren's Profression" - Different Women Struggling for the Same Aim, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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