Cloud 9 And Pygmalion Analysis

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Modern Drama’s Firm Hand in Feminism Cloud 9 by Caryl Churchill and Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw explore character’s identities through gender and societal roles. Cloud 9 focuses heavily on the search for identity; characters are portrayed by actors of the opposite gender or a different age. Pygmalion is more concerned with the role people play in society; taking a rough around the edges lower class girl and attempting to make her into a high society lady. Both plays provide an insight to the dynamics and roles created by society that are inherent in modern drama and the continued oppression and poor treatment of females. “Many plays in the modern drama canon lend themselves to discussions of home and selfhood, allowing us to identify more precisely how the modern theatre imagines social action and change”(Lee). Both Cloud 9 and Pygmalion provide an exploration of gender and caste roles in society. In Pygmalion the exploration of gender is a great deal less evident and Eliza’s place in the lower class plays more of a part. Cloud 9 does however explore gender and even sexual orientation even further and it’s feminist themes are much more present. In Pygmalion, Professor Henry Higgins attempts to transform Eliza Doolittle into someone as well spoken as a duchess by simply teaching her the proper dialect. Her place in society means that this opportunity may be her only hope of getting a better job and life. Higgins takes full advantage of this, treating her horribly through teasing and mocking. He treats her as more of a subject to perform experiments on and until she takes action of her own he doesn’t even see her as someone worth his time. Some may look at his attempt to transform Eliza as something he is doing to he... ... middle of paper ... ... all of the characters sleeping with a member of the same-sex at one point in the act. In the second act the play not only jumps forward one hundred years to 1979 (though the time difference for the characters is only 25 years), it also moves to London. All of the characters are portrayed by different actors than they were in the first act. Some have been left behind and we are introduced to some new characters. The changes in the hundred years are apparent when looking at Betty who went from turning down an affair because it would be improper for her to do so, to divorcing her husband Clive and being on her own. At the end of the play, when the Betty from Act I appears and hugs the Betty from Act II, it is a man hugging a women. The Betty in Act I that was portrayed by a man was submissive is joined with the Betty from Act 2 who is strong and independent.

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