What reasons does Shaw give for presenting in his dramas topics such as the roots of prostitution? (should deal with problems which exist)

Why has Mrs. Warren’s  Profession been trashed? From what directions have such criticisms come?

Who, by contrast, have defended the morality and importance of his plays? (women, those who attempt to reclaim the unfortunate)

What evidence does he give of the hypocrisy of his critics? What forms of sexual experience seem readily tolerated on the stage? (representations of rape, titillating scenes)

On what grounds does Shaw object to the fact that plays must be licensed by the censor? Even if the censor understood literature, what deleterious effect would censorship have? (would repress originality)

What kind of plays does he attempt? (appeals to intellect, not senses or sentimentality)

What are Shaw’s views on the causes of prostitution? What evidence does he give? (aristocratic women don’t become prostitutes)

Why have his critics objected to the fact that a brothel owner is presented as a somewhat interesting and intelligent woman? What is Shaw’s defense? (evil is masked throughout society)

What example does Shaw give of a male with a reprehensible occupation who could be represented favorably on the stage? (a bookmaker) What accounts for the difference in response?

If Mrs. Warren herself is not the villain of the piece, who or what is? (society)

What account does Shaw give of his play’s reception in the United States? Did some of these examples surprise you?

Act I

What are some traits which identify Vivien as a “new woman”? Which of these attributes are intended to seem favorable? Rather mixed?

What humor is derived from the reactions of others to her?

Why has Shaw chosen the mathematical tripos as her realm of achievement?

What effect is created by postponing the arrival of Vivien’s mother? What do we learn about her before her appearance?

How are stage descriptions used to further the reading experience? (resemble an authorial intrusion in fiction)

What forms of humor are evoked by the topic of unknown paternity? What hint are we given at the end?

Act II:

What are we to make of Frank’s flirtatious behavior toward Mrs. Warren? Is he sincere?

On what grounds are their elders firmly opposed to any marriage between Vivien and Frank?

How are Mr. Praed, Mr. Crofts and the Rev. Samuel characterized? What has been/is the relation of each to Mrs. Warren?

How does the play represent generational differences? With which generation does the audience usually side?

How do Frank and Vivien characterize their elders when in private? (238)

What fancy on Mr. Crofts’ part is contemned by Mrs. Warren? How does Vivien characterize him?

What answer does Mrs. Warren give to Vivien’s desire to learn who her father was?

What does Mrs. Warren tell her daughter about her own past? Are there aspects of her justification that she omits? (her exploitation of other women)

How does Vivien respond to her mother’s tale? Is this the reaction you expected?

What has enabled Vivien to live a life much different from that of her mother?


What is the effect of calling Mr. Praed, Mr. Crofts, etc. by their last names?

What account does Frank give his father of the latter’s behavior the preceding night?

What embarrassing invitation has been given, and by whom? What has happened to Mrs. Gardner?

How does Frank characterize his father to Mr. Praed? Mrs. Warren? (“ever so rowdy”) Crofts ("wicked old devil")?

What role does Praed play in this comedy? Would it seem likely that he has been a friend of Mrs. Warren? What is Frank's own role?

What is added to this comedy by the use of now-dated slang? (e. g., good sort and bad lot)

What sarcasms are directed at the current practices of “restoration” of churches? Were these controversial at the time?

How do Frank and Vivie now differ in their opinions of her mother? On what grounds does Frank claim greater knowledge? (a freemasonry among immoral people)

What form of affection do the two show for each other? Does this have implications for their future? (babes in wood, not eroticized adults)

What form of proposal does Crofts offer Vivie? What does he explain about the economics of her mother’s source of income?

Who else does he claim has been implicated in the “business” of prostitution? Will “society” reject Mrs. Warren or others on moral grounds?

On what basis does Vivie reject Crofts’ proposal? (comically unsuitable match; she calls him a “capitalist bully”)

What threat does Frank make on his reappearance? (will shoot Crofts “by accident”) How would the play have been changed had he done so?

From what motives does Crofts reveal Vivie’s parentage? Does the viewer assume he has spoken the truth?

How do Vivie and Frank respond to this undesired news? (he threatens to shoot Crofts; she points rifle at her breast)

To where does Vivie flee? What resolve do we learn she has taken?

Act IV

How has Frank gained the money he offers to spend on an outing with Vivie? What does this indicate about their chances for a successful relationship?

What future does Vivie propose for herself? Does this seem a bit bleak?

What difference has the knowledge that they may be brother and sister made in their relationship, according to them? Would the audience agree? What light has the Rev. Samuel shed on the matter? (claims there must be some mistake)

What does Frank suspect may have changed Vivie’s mind about her proposed future? (alternate lover)

Who enters next? What emotions regarding his planned trip to Brussels and elsewhere on the continent evoke in Vivien?

What reaction does Frank express toward the “gospel of getting on”?  How does Vivie respond to the suggestion that the gospels of art and of “getting on” are the sole options for life?

What revelation has Vivie found so shocking that she can only write it on a piece of paper? How does each man react? (Praed shocked at Crofts’ occupation; Fred realizes he can’t marry Vivie because he would be a drag on her support)

What future relationship does Frank expect he and Vivie will have? Does this seem satisfying?

When Mrs. Warren appears, what advice do Frank and Praed give her? (she should leave)

On Vivie’s entrance, after the men have left, what change does Mrs. Warren ask her daughter to explain? (has returned check at bank)

What appeal does Mrs. Warren make to her daughter? What does she offer her? In return, how does Vivie characterize the lives of Crofts and others of his class? (“the usual shooting, hunting, dining-out, tailoring, loafing life of his set”) What are Vivien’s goals? (“I don’t want to be worthless”)

What justification does Mrs. Warren give for continuing as a brothel manager? (enjoys making money)

What future relationship with the other does each desire? Are Mrs. Warren’s objections presented sympathetically? (says if granted the choice she would behave worse!)

Of what additional flaw does Vivien accuse her mother? (hypocrisy—living one life and believing in another) Does this seem in fact to have been Mrs. Warren’s flaw?

On what terms do they part?

What characterizes the final scene? (Vivie returns to work, discards Frank’s note) What points are made by this ending? Was this the best possible outcome, granted her situation?

What future life do we envision for Frank? Why do you think he isn't granted the opportunity to graduate out of the role of purposeless dilettante? Is there hope for a "new man" in the future society?

What roles have been served throughout by Frank, the Rev. Garner, Praed and Crofts respectively?

What standard features of comedy recur throughout the play, and to what extent are these used to further the play’s ends? (e. g., reversal and recognition, upended expectations; an unconventional ending)