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George Bernard Shaw uses the theme of the role of upper and middle class very often in his works, especially plays. It is clear that he attempts to portray these roles in such a setting as the old English times. In the plays "Mrs. Warren's Profession" and "Pygmalion," Shaw advocates that each lady and gentleman in the upper class must act accordingly, with proper manners, and speak proper English. In "Mrs. Warren's Profession," he suggests that upper-classmen should not have to work hard for money; it is plainly given to them. Mrs. Warren for example, towards the end she reveals that she uses her body to obtain all of her money. She wants to share this money with her daughter, Vivie-whom was born into the upper-class, but she refuses to acknowledge such a title. Vivie wants to work for everything she has, acting as if she were a middle-classmen. Pygmalion is also very similar. Two men make a bet to transform an illiterate, poor woman into an upper class lady. She is treated as an object, receiving everything she desires, and learns to speak proper English, though she is used to working for everything she has. Shaw does a magnificent job at displaying the roles of the upper and middle class in these two plays.
"Mrs. Warren's Profession" is a great piece of Shaw's. It greatly enhances his thoughts about the roles of upper and middle class. Mrs. Warren, herself, and Crofts are great examples of upper class characters in the play. Mrs. Warren dresses in a trendy fashion. She also talks down to people and gives them orders. This gives the reader an impression that she is a snobby, rich woman; though we do not know how she earned her money. Crofts, on the other hand, is an old friend of Mrs. Warren. Later in the play, the reader finds out that Mrs. Warren uses her body for her money, and Crofts controls the business. Vivie doesn't like this. Vivie is Mrs. Warren's daughter. She was born into the upper class, but acts as if she wasn't. She wants to be a normal teen and does just that. She completely disregards that she can have as much money as she pleases. Vivie works hard for everything she has or wants. She reads books to pass the time, and makes a living by herself. This is Shaw's idea of what middle class is. Shaw's idea of upper class is quite the opposite. Most don't work hard for the great amount of money they receive and they put money into what they want. In his play "Mrs. Warren's Profession," George Bernard Shaw tells the story of a daughter whom discovers her mother's past and how she gained her fortune, later to find out she is still in business with prostitution." He writes, "She'd never have made the money that paid for your education if it hadn't been for my advice and help, not to mention the money I advancer her â€¦ I put not less than £40,000 into it, from first to last" (262). Crofts wanted the Warren's to work for him so he put money into Vivie's education and to her mother; he used his money for power. Mrs. Warren started out a poor woman before Crofts came around. She had no choice but to accept his money, and now she's living in a fortune.
In a review for Mrs. Warren's Profession, the writer says: "Mrs. Warren's profession is prostitution. She has accumulated a lot of wealth via her rise from prostitute to madam of numerous European brothels. Her success has afforded Vivie an excellent education, yet has cost her a mother, as she only just meeting her mother for the first time at the start of the play." I think this is reflecting on the upper class poorly as well as a good manner. Mrs. Warren only did this for her daughter; to give her an education; to give Vivie whatever she wants, but she also forgot about her daughter in the beginning. She neglected her existence and is snobbish about it- resembling typical upperclassmen of the nineteenth century.
Shaw also does a wonderful job in portraying the roles of upper and middle class in his play "Pygmalion." This play is about a woman, Eliza Doolittle, who meets a man, while trying to sell him flowers, which knows how to make a person more refined from his studies. Eliza asks Henry Higgins, the man, to make her a refined, upper class lady for a garden party. Assumingly, the middle class and below do not have perfect English, nor have money to pay for anything. They also work for everything they have in life. The upper class, on the other hand, pay for what they want, they speak correct English, and are treated fairly. Shaw writes, "THE FLOWER GIRL. I want to be a lady in a flower shop stead of selling at the corner of Tottenham Court Road. But they won't take me unless I can talk more genteel. He said he could teach me. Well, here I am ready to pay him-not asking any favor-and he treats me as if I was dirt" (Pygmalion, Act II). Eliza's grammar and speech have holes. She doesn't know how to act proper, but she does offer money to learn, which an upper classmen would do. Higgins accepts the money she offered and begins right away. The experiment lasted for months, but it was successful. Eliza went from being a poor, cockney speaking flower girl into a clean woman with poise, a great sense of vocabulary, and proper English. As Shaw illustrates to the reader, this is quite expected of an upper classman.
In 123HelpMe.com's review of "Pygmalion," the writer makes a statement of how Shaw describes social class. They write: "The play looks at middle class morality and upper-class superficiality, and reflects the social ills of nineteenth century England, and attests that all people are worthy of respect and dignity." They are saying that all upper classmen possess a great amount of respect and dignity over the middle class, but the middle class has the opportunity to better themselves in such ways.
One detail the reader may not know what Shaw cleverly inserts into his plays is that it doesn't matter what class you are to act and perform a certain way. In other words, actions don't have to correspond with which class you're classified as. In "Mrs. Warren's Profession," Vivie was born into the upper class, yet works hard and shadows away from that classification. She didn't do as expected of her, because she just wanted to be a normal woman. Similarly, Eliza, from Shaw's play "Pygmalion," was a poor woman, but had that mentality of a classy, high-respected lady, though her appearance matched the description of that of the poor. Shaw did an excellent job at executing these roles into his plays, because they play a great role in society today as well. The middle class strive for a living and to make ends meet, while the upper class live in luxury, use their money for power and to make life easier for themselves.