Social Class in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and Heartbreak House Essay

Social Class in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and Heartbreak House Essay

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Social class can be thought of as a very important indicator of who a person is.
Social class is defined as a broad group in society having common economic, cultural, or political status. Where somebody comes from can effect somebody's decision to become involved with that person or not, can effect whether that person will be hired for a job or not and can often effect they way one is looked at and treated by society. Either way, class distinction is always evident within society.
Using two plays by George Bernard Shaw, the relevance of the statement, ?class distinction is always evident within society,? will be shown through the use of examples, from both texts. The specific categories of examples are, character, style and setting. In these categories, Pygmalion and Heartbreak House will prove to be more different to each other than they are similar.

In the plays, Pygmalion and Heartbreak House, it is shown through character?s speech, actions and mannerisms, that class distinction is always evident within society. The characters, Henry Higgins, the Eynsford Hill family, and Colonial Pickering, all show how social class and economic rank are important in the play, Pygmalion. Henry Higgins shows discrimination towards the lower class Eliza Doolittle by addressing her not as a lady but as a ?draggletailed guttersnipe? (Shaw, Pygmalion, 26). When Eliza Doolittle enters the Higgins/ Pickering residence, Henry Higgins is not sure what to do with such a dirty lower class girl, he asks Pickering, ?shall we ask this baggage to sit down, or shall we throw her out the window?? (Shaw, Pygmalion, 23). These comments towards Eliza Doolittle greatly hurt her self esteem and show that even when somebody is being as polite as they possi...


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...plimentary. Using the style of naturalism it was shown that in Pygmalion, current environment is the true indicator of what social class one belongs, whereas in Heartbreak House it was shown that heredity is the more accurate indicator. In the category of style, Pygmalion and Heartbreak House are more different than they are similar. In exploring the setting of nineteenth century England, that was used for both plays, it was shown that even in times of revolution and in times of war, class distinction is always present. In the category of setting, Pygmalion and Heartbreak House prove to be more alike than different. Since two out of three categories show that the two plays are more different, the previous hypothesis proves true: Pygmalion and Heartbreak House are more different than they are alike when it comes to social class and the role that it plays in both texts.

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