The Role of Women in Victorian Marriage and Shaw's Representation of Vivie's Sexuality
Men who could afford to get married in the Victorian era could make use of “laws that gave him total control of his wife's person — and her fortune”. Victorian women were expected to maintain a poised and dignified manner, and to be obedient to their husbands' requests. The character Vivie defies the Victorian expectations of an obedient woman. She is educated and entirely self-sufficient. During the play she resists two marriage proposals, reflecting her reliance on her work ethic and hard-headed approach to life. Shaw represents Vivie as being the product of a type of gender reformation. This reformation results in a character who is asexual and "permanently unromantic".
Throughout the play, the boundary between sexual desires and proposed marriages is blurred; for example, Frank flirts with Mrs. Warren as well as Vivie. Mrs. Warren's companion Sir George Crofts also proposes marriage to Vivie despite his relationship with her mother. Critic Petra Dierkes-Thrun has argued that these examples illustrate the way in which Shaw
critiqued the ideological and economic system that produced her, attacking the problematic double standard of male privilege and the deeply entrenched objectification of women, which Shaw saw pervading all levels of Victorian society down to its most basic nuclear element, the family.
Read more about this topic: Mrs. Warren's Profession
Famous quotes containing the words shaw, role, women, victorian and/or marriage:
“If we women were particular about mens characters, we should never get married at all.”
—George Bernard Shaw (18561950)
“The role of the writer is not simply to arrange Being according to his own lights; he must also serve as a medium to Being and remain open to its often unfathomable dictates. This is the only way the work can transcend its creator and radiate its meaning further than the author himself can see or perceive.”
—Václav Havel (b. 1936)
“That myththat image of the madonna-motherhas disabled us from knowing that, just as men are more than fathers, women are more than mothers. It has kept us from hearing their voices when they try to tell us their aspirations . . . kept us from believing that they share with men the desire for achievement, mastery, competencethe desire to do something for themselves.”
—Lillian Breslow Rubin (20th century)
“Apart from letters, it is the vulgar custom of the moment to deride the thinkers of the Victorian and Edwardian eras; yet there has not been, in all history, another age ... when so much sheer mental energy was directed toward creating a fairer social order.”
—Ellen Glasgow (18731945)
“Only one marriage I regret. I remember after I got that marriage license I went across from the license bureau to a bar for a drink. The bartender said, What will you have, sir? And I said, A glass of hemlock.”
—Ernest Hemingway (18991961)