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Pigmalion as an Entertaining and Interesting Play
"Pigmalion" is a popular comedy even today and is very famous that it
is hard to find someone who does not knoew the play. From reading this
book in class, I think there are many reasons for its popularity.
I think one of the most important factor in this book that makes this
play so amusing and gripping is the contrasting characters which in
someways we can feel very familiar towards, as many people share their
characters. Also it is interesting that the main characters, Eliza and
Higgins have very different views to the world as well as for other
things, probably because of the social classes they were brought up
Henry treats Eliza and everyone else as if he is better than him, and
cannot think about other people as these quotations show: "Pickering:
shall we ask this baggage to sit down, or shall we throw her out of
the window?" (p.23) "I walk over everybody ! My dear Mrs Pearce, my
dear Pickering, I never had the slightest intention of walking over
anyone. All I propose is that we should be kind to this poor girl."
(p.27) "Cynical ? Who the dickens said it was cynical ? I mean it
wouldn't be decent"(p56). However the respectable Englishman suddenly
turns into a big naughty boy in front of his mother, throwing his hat
on the table, sulking, swooping on his mother and dragging her to the
ottoman.... The audience soon finds out that he has a very difficult
character, but also comical and familiar, and I think without this
character, this play would not be so entertainig.
On the other hand, Eliza Dolittle, the main character, is
self-confident and ambitious, which is twisted to make the play a
comedy with the fact that she is from the lower class and that she
does not know how to behave properly. Some may say that it is cruel to
laugh at someone who is only funny because of the way she had grown
up. However I do not think so because although she is concious of her
financial situations, and likes to be treated conventionally, she is
confident as shown by her repetition of "I'm a good girl I am".
Other characters are also comical such as the Eynsfords the innocent
mother and the children who are struggling to stay in their original
status and busy following the trend, and Alfred Dolittle, Eliza's
father, who enjoys being the "undeserving" poor.
In this story, money also illustrates the characters' personalities.
For example, when the flowergirl was trying to sell bunches of flowers
to the Mrs Eynsford, the daughter, Clara, says: "Do nothing of the
sort, mother. The idea!" â€¦â€¦ "Sixpence thrown away! Really, mamma, you
might have spared Freddy that." (p.9) which clearly shows her attitude
towards the flowergirl who is obviously poorer than her. She is
behaving like a snob and has no thought to spare for the poor, and
when she meets Eliza again at Mrs Higgins' at-home, she pays her
full-respect to her because she thinks Eliza is one of the
After Clara meets Eliza for the first time, Eliza goes to Higgins'
house and offers to pay a shilling for a lesson. He explains how much
she is prepared to pay him compared to a millionaire. "She offers me
2/5 of her day's income for a lesson. 2/5 of a millionaire's income
would be somewhere about Â£60. It's handsome. By George, it's
enormous!" (p.25) I think this demonstrates how Eliza is ambitious and
determined to speak properly to be a florist, that she is willing to
pay as much as possible. On the contrast, Higgins, having being
offered a shilling for a lesson, compares it to the amount she is
offering to pay if she was a millionaire and calling it a large
amount, he is not so concerned about the money, but he likes making a
big deal out of everything she says.
The money in this story, as well as being used to demonstrate some of
the characters' attitude towards money and other people, and their
characters, it is also a very important factor to make this play an
interesting one along with some issued about social classes, because
everyone is going to be familiar to these matters, and although we
supposedly don't have social classes in 21st century, still there are
some problems arousing and I think this is one of the reasons why this
play has been a long-hit seller.
Another main reason for this is that it is made entertaining with the
simple main storyline so the audience can easily follow the story.
Eliza, the flowergirl at Covent Garden, is being transformed by Dr
Higgins to pass as a duchess in six months. Although simple, it
appeals to everyone and the audience would want to know what happens
as the idea seems impossible. However, in other words, it is about
Eliza trying to buy her way to the upper-social class. As we can see
in the book, apart from Higgins who is rude to anyone whether in a
higher or lower social class and Pickering who is in contrast, polite
to anyone despite the class, many characters are rude towards a
certain group of people because of the social class and may be the
author was trying to point out that snobbery was wrong, by making fun
of these characters and writing in the style of comedy to make this
To conclude, I think the play has been everyone's favourite for such a
long time because of the comical characters which catches everyone's
attention and the themes which many people will be familiar to and
issued. I also think that by combining these factors with the simple
main story plot, Bernard Shaw managed to exemplify problems of social
classes in Britain in the 19th century. This is the way in which
"pigmalion" is both an entertaining and interesting play.
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