Analysis Of ' Pygmalion ' And The Eynsford Hills And Henry Higgins By Bernard Shaw

Analysis Of ' Pygmalion ' And The Eynsford Hills And Henry Higgins By Bernard Shaw

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Bernard Shaw’s timeless criticism of gender and class roles in society, titled Pygmalion utilises characterisation to challenge the reader’s perceptions about class and gender. The play highlights the transformation of Eliza Doolittle from a flower girl to a duchess under the direction of phoneticist Henry Higgins. Through the characterisation of characters such as Eliza, Mr Doolittle, The Eynsford-hills and Henry Higgins, Bernard Shaw highlights the mundane nature of middle class morality and challenges traditional stereotypes. Pygmalion scandalised its audiences in1914 as it condemns the British class system and asserts Bernard Shaw’s feminist views. Bernard Shaw’s views on class and gender roles are expanded upon through the characterisation of key characters and subverts audience’s perspective on class and gender,

One pivotal character in ‘Pygmalion’ is Eliza Doolittle. Over the course of the play Eliza strives to transcend the bonds of class to become a social Cinderella of sorts. In the first act Eliza is introduced as a hollering flower girl at the very bottom of the socioeconomic spectrum who Higgins likens to a ‘squashed cabbage leaf’. Eliza wants nothing more but to change her socio-economic situation and live the lavish life of the upper class, but never wishes to forsake her character in the process, as shown in this quote: “He’s no right to take away my character. My character is the same to me as any lady’s.” Clearly the aim of this quote is to highlight Bernard Shaw’s feminist values. Through the characterisation of Eliza, the reader can understand that Eliza values her individualism above all. The reader’s understanding of the characterisation of Eliza challenges typical gender and class stereotypes. After meeti...


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...terisation of Alfred Doolittle to be critical of class and gender in relation to the lower class.

Bernard Shaw utilises the denotation of key characters in the Pygmalion to confront the reader with the broken nature of class and gender roles in society.
Key characters such as Higgins and Eliza depict the dissimilarity and inequality between the upper and lower class, while Alfred Doolittle represents the mundane nature of middle class morality. Bernard Shaw provides social commentary on how people will use others to further their own agendas. Higgins uses Eliza as an experiment, Eliza uses Higgins as a means to climb up the social ladder and Alfred Doolittle uses Eliza as a way to maintain his unaspiring unambitious lifestyle. The purpose of the text, that its not ones social standing that determines their wellbeing, but how they are treated as an equal by others.

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