In this article, I’ll be focusing my writing on the concept of middle class morality. Middle class morality is the way a person is expected to behave and think when they are a part of the middle-class. this was because the poor and the rich weren’t compelled to follow rules but the middle class had to.
~ Firstly, with the rise of industrialization and trade, there was a great inflow of Wealth in England. Thus we are aware that the Victorian society was a very successful one. The ‘Victorian Morality’ included a class structure, focus on work ethics and economy, and charity. It shows us the immorality and sentimentality of the values and norms of the British society which consisted of hypocrisy, corruption, and injustice of the British social system infects everyone affiliated with it. It was hypocritical as respect was only received by those who held high places in society and everyone else were treated like dirt, charity was just a social responsibility and not a willing done act in order to help the less fortunate. Victorian era also discriminated between men and women which played a major role in the legacy of Victorian morality.
~ Industrialization saw the middle class of the society making their way up the social ladder. They worked hard towards wanting a better life and wanted to live life like the upper class society. They aspired for new goals and were desperate to improve their working condition. Even though they couldn’t enjoy all the luxuries of the upper class, they still could get a taste of how the upper class society led their life. If one was a part of the middle class society, their thoughts, opinions were dictated. Even though they worked hard, only some of them enjoyed all the privileges while some were suffering to make ends meet. These morals were applied to middle and high class society but honestly, most of the Victorian era were not moral at all.
~ In this play, Shaw throws light on how Mrs Warrens has defied social expectations by working as a prostitute and has no problem with owning or accepting reality. Why is it that when the rich baron, Mr. Croft who runs a prostitution ring which is considered highly immoral but is always treated with respect? This is because of the discrimination which happens between men and women. If there was a woman in the place of Mr. Croft, then nobody would true a blind eye. It is also because he belongs to the higher class society. We can see the luxuries the higher class society members enjoy through this example.
~ Women who wanted to express their emotions through prostitute were considered “morally incorrect” as in the Victorian era, people would encourage one to starve rather than prostitute their own bodies to make a living. People who belonged to the Victorian era consideration prostitution to be a huge threat to the society. The society had the audacity to judge women when they weren’t even provided with stable jobs/ good opportunities for women. They always thought that the women were weak and always had to be dependent on men. They forgot that women were their own people and were not existing to satisfy the needs of men.
~ In the Victorian society, respect was earned not by working hard or achievements but it was from how much income one earns. Monetary worth is given utmost importance. Shaw brings out the skepticism by showing us different means of earnings money by Mr. Croft and Mrs Warrens. Even though Mr. Croft is respected, Mrs Warren’s profession is considered as vulgar and completely inappropriate. They make comments about how Mrs Warrens is going against the society’s values like feminity and oppression.
~ Being aquatinted with Victorian society, we know that they were quick to blame Mrs Warrens for choosing the profession of prostitution even though that wasn’t her first choice. Shaw uses this opportunity to point out the hypocrisy and unjustness actions of the society where women weren’t given enough opportunities to be independent.
~ Shaw portrays most of his major female characters as unconventional. Women were highly objectified and considered as creatures of oppression, dependency and passiveness. They thought that women weren’t worthy of education and therefore Vivie was not considered to be feminine. She is strong, realistic and a rational thinker, independent and ambitious and refuses to think that marriage is her end goal. Mrs Warrens expects Vivie to listen to her as she is her mother and wants her daughter to follow these Victorian society Norms but Mrs Warrens break these Norms when they tend to benefit her. She refuses to accept Vivie and her bold outlook but enters the field of prostitution when it’s beneficial.
~ We can see the inequality between men and women. Even though, the era was thriving under a female monarch, even though there was abundant growth in art, culture and wealth, it was very unjust towards women. Even though it had it benefits, it failed to uphold the rights of women which would’ve led them to lead better and happy lives.
Categories: Book Review