"William E. Emba"|
This is Shaw's notorious play about poverty and prostitution, the
"profession" of the title. (The play itself was not performed in
public in the UK until 1925.)
Mrs. Warren has made her fortune on the continent, and sent her
mostly estranged daughter Vivie to the best schools, and then
Newnham college (of Cambridge), without ever telling Vivie where
the money came from.
The play begins with Vivie meeting one of her mother's old friends,
and telling him about how she tied with the third wrangler on the
mathematical tripos, shortly after one Phillipa Summers had placed
above the senior wrangler. (This is based on the real world Philippa
Fawcett of Newnham who placed above the senior wrangler in 1890. As
a woman, she was not eligible for a degree, hence not on the list of
wranglers. (See the biography of
Millicent Garrett Fawcett, her mother.)
Vivie complains that while she indeed learned lots of mathematics at
Newnham, including calculations for use in engineering and insurance,
but no engineering or insurance. She mentions her plans are to go
into insurance, while learning law and finance.
Then comes the play, wherein Vivie learns her mother's profession
and the role various people had back in the past. In the final scene,
she is in her actuarial office. Out of disgust, she is in the midst
of cutting off all ties with her mother and her mother's associates.
The play ends with Vivie alone, absorbed in actuarial calculations.
Printed as part of Plays Unpleasant