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Bernard Shaw's Critique of Materialism

Bernard Shaw's Critique of Materialism

In the play “Mrs. Warren’s Profession”, Bernard Shaw criticizes the “upper-class” for their materialistic Philosophies. The author demonstrates his criticism through two main figures; Mrs. Warren and Mr. Crofts who portray the role of materialistic beliefs in society. Both of these individuals share much wealth and believe money made them a “somebody”. Bernard Shaw uses Vivie, a character that has no materialistic desires at all to express his believes and opinions on materialism.

When Frank reveals his desire to marry Vivie in act two, Mrs. Warren protests heavily, partly because she does not want her daughter to be married to a person with little money and little property. We see these materialistic beliefs of Mrs. Warren more often when she tells Vivie about the importance of financial well being, not only to be able to support yourself, but to enable yourself to marry someone "worthy", meaning someone who could afford Vivie. Another aspect that identifies Mrs. Warren as a materialist is that she still pursues her profession as a prostitute. She could have quit the profession along time ago when her financial needs were satisfied but she is too greedy, wanting more money and luxury. “And then it brings in the money; and I like making money. No it’s no use: I can’t give it up-” (p. 113). Mrs. Warren is trying to defend her actions before her daughter. She's "explaining" to Vivie the ways of the world. On one hand, Mrs. Warren is admitting that what she is doing is wrong, but on the other hand she answers Vivie's questions about being ashamed by saying: "It's only good manners to be ashamed. It's expected of a woman" (p. 86). She is saying, "yes, I am ashamed, but only because I'm supposed to be". Mrs. Warren does not care about the immoralities of her work; making money is the only important thing to her.

Mr. Crofts is more materialistic than Mrs. Crofts. He believes that Vivie should marry him because he has wealth, he does not see a problem in being twenty-five years older or being disliked by Vivie. In the dialog he has with Vivie in the garden, he criticizes Frank for having “no profession, no property, what’s he good for?” (p. 94) Mr. Crofts suggests that a person with no professional skills, property, or financial well being is no good. Just like Mrs. Warren, Mr Crofts...

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