Shaw's controversial attack on society's hypocrisy. Young Vivie Warren, emancipated, intelligent and self sufficient is astounded to learn her mother rose from poverty to riches through prostitution---and also that she is now part owner and operator of a chain of brothels. Mrs. Warren ably justifies her past---attacking a hypocritical society that rewards vice and oppresses virtue. She states poverty and the society that fosters poverty are the real villains and that life in a brothel is preferable to life in a 19th century factory. Vivie, respecting her mother's courage, accepts her past but not her present. She cuts herself off from her mother and, rejecting all suitors, throws herself into the independent life of a career woman.