Themes of George Bernard Shaw's Play Pygmalion Essay example

Themes of George Bernard Shaw's Play Pygmalion Essay example

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Themes of George Bernard Shaw's Play Pygmalion

Pygmalion and My Fair Lady are a modern parallel of the story of Pygmalion, legendary sculptor and King of Cyprus, who fell in love with his own statue of Aphrodite. At his prayer, Aphrodite brought the statue to life as Galatea. George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion is the story of Henry Higgins, a master phonetician, and his mischievous plot to pass a common flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, off as a duchess at the Embassy Ball. In order to achieve his goal, Higgins must teach Eliza how to speak properly and how to act in upper-class society. The play looks at "middle class morality" and upper-class superficiality, and reflects the social ills of nineteenth century England, and attests that all people are worthy of respect and dignity.
Shaw's "Pygmalion" is Henry Higgins, professor of phonetics, who, comes upon a homely flower-girl selling flowers in the streets, makes a wager with Colonel Pickering that in three months he can so transform her as to pass her off for a lady. To Higgins, this is but a task that he accomplishes, a wager that he wins; but in Eliza Doolittle, the flower girl, a new personality has been created. With the manners and speech of a lady, she cannot fall back into her old life, and with those ways has come an asserting will, which selects Henry Higgins, her "creator," as her mate. To Higgins' dismay, he finds that his "laboratory case" has surged into all his life, with emotional entanglements he had not anticipated.
Throughout most of civilization, people have been divided into social classes. In a lot of different especially capitalist cultures there is an upper class rich, powerful and in control. Then there was a middle class, less comfortably off than ...


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...ian royalty at that, merely by altering her appearance and speech. The wealthy are so superficial they can not see past Eliza's appearance.
On a deeper level, Pygmalion addresses the social ills in England at the turn of the century. Victorian England was characterized by extreme class division and limited, to no, social mobility. Language separated the elite from the lower class. In Pygmalion, Eliza's dialect inhibits her from procuring a job in a flower shop; Pygmalion is about the universal truth that all people are worthy of respect and dignity, from the wealthy nobleman to the beggar on the street corner. The difference between a common flower girl and a duchess, apart from appearance and demeanor, is the way she is treated. Treat the flower girl as if she were a duchess, worthy of respect and decency, and she will become a better person as a result.

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