George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’ tells the story of a low-class flower girl called Eliza Doolittle, who one day encounters a phonetics professor named Henry Higgins. He believes that he can change Eliza’s speech and posture in such a way, that it would be plausible for Eliza to be a duchess, therefore Higgins wagers his friend Colonel Pickering on it. Higgins' bet is accepted by Pickering as well as by Eliza, since she will get to live in Higgins’ luxurious house. Once Eliza has moved in with him, Higgins puts a lot of effort into transforming Eliza’s Cockney accent into the speech of proper English. This written task will discuss how and why the text might differ from the original if it had been written in a different time, place or language or for a different audience.
The story of Pygmalion is set around the mid to late 1800s in the city of London. The reason why Shaw chose for this setting is quite obvious, since it is the time period in which he lived and London was his birthplace. However, the setting is also important for the story. To begin with, in this period of time the pattern of social mobility was changing. If you were born in a lower class family, you could climb up the social ladder by working hard, like Eliza. Secondly, the position of women in society was changing. Women were considered more than just the child-bearers, their importance in the family life was finally acknowledged. This is shown in the story of Pygmalion when Eliza marries Freddy and she tells him that she wants to care of him.
The story taking place in England is likewise crucial to the setting. England had a more solid social structure at the time than for example America, so it was easier to spot the circumstances that k...
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...e book would have been written in a different style. The language used would be inspiring and motivating, since the purpose of the book is to make people aware of the language they use and the impressions they make on others. These children would see Eliza as their example, an example that teaches them to work for what they want to achieve and to never give up.
Pygmalion is a marvelous literary work: the story itself is engaging as well as witty, whereas the underlying thought of creating awareness of the importance of speech is ingeniously thought of. Not to speak of the influence Shaw’s play had in other countries. Each country has its own take on social mobility and the story of Pygmalion shows the first steps against class division and the opportunities that one can create by simple altering one’s language and posture.
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