Pygmalion, by Bernard Shaw

3418 Words7 Pages

Bernard Shaw


A Romance in Five Acts

1. Summary of the Play, page 2

2. Introduction and Short Analysis of the Main Character, page 4

3. Interpretation, page 5

4. Additional Information, page 7

5. Literature and Links, page 8

1. Summary

London at 11.15 a.m., on a rainy summer day.
Everybody’s running for shelter because of the torrential storm. A bunch of people ist gathering in St. Pauls church, looking outside and waiting for the rain to stop.
Among the crowd, there is a young flower girl which grew up in the slums of London and therefore has a terribly bad language, although she is a good-natured, simple and pure being.
She is carrying a basket with flowers. As there is nothing else to do while waiting for the rain to end, she asks a gentleman next to her to buy a flower.

The way she speaks attracts the attention of a bystander, who is constantly scribbling down something in his notebook. The flower girl first thinks that he is a police officer and begins to defend herself that she didn’t do anything wrong, but it soon becomes clear that the bystander isn’t a policeman at all, but a professor of didactics, an analyst of dialects, specialised in London’s suburbal accents. He is so fascinated of the absolutely disgusting slang of the flower girl, that he has taken down all the expressions she used. He explains to the crowd, that he has no bad intention at all. He is just a collector of dialects.

Home again, Eliza (the flower girl) thinks about what this strange man just said, and she takes a decision. She looks around in her miserable room, and it’s clear to her that something has to change.

At the same time in the house of Henry Higgins, the phonetician. He is visited by Pickering, whom he met at St. Paul’s church. While they are talking, the maid is coming in, saying that a girl named Eliza Doolittle is waiting at the door.
Not knowing the name of the flower girl, Higgins invites her in. When he recognizes the flower girl, he is very surprised. She confronts him with an offer: she wants to pay him (with nearly all she’s got, and that’s not much), and he in return should teach her how to speak like a lady. Her dream is to work in a flower shop, but at present she surely won’t be accepted and employed because of her bad language.
At first, Higgins rejects the offer. He can see no use in it for him. But the...

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...e more he falls in love with her, until he wishes that she were more than a statue. This statue is Galatea. Lovesick, Pygmalion goes to the temple of the goddess Venus and prays that she brings the statue alive; Venus is touched by his love and brings Galatea to life.

Personal Impression

To me, it was a good book. I enjoyed reading it very much because of it’s sarcastic wit. It’s also quite easy to read, and you never get bored. I read it at one go, it’s not too long and very fluent.
What I personally don’t like about the play is that the transformation of Eliza works out a little bit too well. I simply can’t imagine a person changing her whole character and thinking within six months. Dressing her up like a queen seems to be a rational aim, but changing her way of being, and in such a short time... in my opinion this is quite unrealistic.
But apart from that I really enjoyed the book.

5. Sources of Information

Shaw, Bernard, Pygmalion, Philipp Reclam jun. GmbH & Co., Stuttgart (1990) , 05.06.2005, 02.05.2005, 05.06.2005

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