The Themes of Pygmalion, by Bernard Shaw Essay

The Themes of Pygmalion, by Bernard Shaw Essay

Length: 831 words (2.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The play, Pygmalion, by Bernard Shaw is about a phonetics expert who makes a bet that he can pass a Cockney flower girl as a duchess in the matter of a few months. This girl, Eliza does achieve the transformation, but at the expense of a familiar life in the gutters, and risks being caste off into the world with nowhere to turn. This play explores many themes, has extensive use of symbolism, interesting tonality, irony, and the play itself is an allusion to ancient Greek mythology.

The major theme in Pygmalion is class. In Britain you are very much judged by your social class. Your class is marked by your clothing, your mannerisms, and your accent. By a phonetics expert like Higgins, a person can be placed within two streets in London by their accent, and therefor can be placed under their social class and furthermore judged based off of it. Higgins takes on the challenge of passing off a girl born into the lowest of social classes, and moving her up the social classes by changing her accent, clothing, and mannerisms.

Another theme in Pygmalion is imperfection and perfection. Before her transformation, Eliza is viewed, by herself and the world, as flawed. Her Cockney accent keeps her in the gutter, her mannerisms appall those of the upper classes, and she can barely make enough money to get by. Then, her transformation perfects her, bringing her accent and mannerisms up to that of an upperclassman. However, in the quest to perfect, she is left with an imperfect life. She does not know what to do with her perfected self, and feels like a victim to the world.

This play explores a variety of serious themes, however Pygmalion's tone is light-hearted. Higgins is constantly making careless insults that actually come off as qu...


... middle of paper ...


...ted.

Higgins' character is rather ironic. He believes that he cannot be changed. He thinks that his habits of walking over everyone around him and being outrageously blunt is too ingrained in him to be changed. However, the who play is about how he transform Eliza. He believes he can change her so dramatically that she can pass as a duchess, but he does not believe that even he can start to act like a decent person.

Shaw's depiction of Eliza's transformation from a Cockney flower girl to a duchess is rather interesting. Higgins' irony and comedic relief is adds a light-hearted tone to the serious themes presented in the play. Along so, the symbolism supplies a deeper meaning. Pygmalion is a charming work, which shows as it's lived gloriously through the years. Although the play ends without a resolution, Eliza's transformation is sure to win the hearts of many.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Themes of George Bernard Shaw's Play Pygmalion Essay example

- 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....   [tags: Papers]

Better Essays
1140 words (3.3 pages)

Essay on Pygmalion a Play by Bernard Shaw

- Pygmalion is one of Bernard Shaw’s most famous and beloved plays, which he published in London in 1912. This play was written during the Edwardian era which was characterised by major political, social and economical changes. Politically, the reign of king Edward VII witnessed a relative involvement of social segments such as labourers and women in political life. Socio-economically, the British society was marked by a strict and a clear-cut social class system in the early twentieth century. During this period and up to First World War, it was believed that 1% of the British population owned approximately 70% of the country’s wealth....   [tags: class differences, ancient greek]

Better Essays
1422 words (4.1 pages)

Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw Essay

- In the today’s society, people are looking for what type of emotion completes them; the emotion is love. Love is the type of emotion that is difficult to explain. When love as an emotion is lost, that person also feels lost, ultimately changes themselves complete. There are several ways in which people change and/or react to such emotions. For example, some react in anger and others react in depression. In 1912, a play written by George Bernard Shaw talked about this same nature of love. Shaw wrote the play, Pygmalion, due to said reaction....   [tags: play background, love]

Better Essays
1119 words (3.2 pages)

Essay about Comparing Pygmalion and My Fair Lady

- Comparing Pygmalion and My Fair Lady Through the years, countless film directors have adapted and recreated various novels and plays to make them ideal for the big-screen. In many cases, directors strive to keep their screenplay adaptations true to the original literature; however, viewers often find contrasts in certain areas of the film. George Bernard Shaw, author of the play Pygmalion, who had passed away prior to the production of My Fair Lady in 1964, therefore, he could not assist in the transition from play to musical....   [tags: My Fair Lady Pygmalion Compare Contrast Essays]

Better Essays
1023 words (2.9 pages)

Bernard Shaw Essay

- George Bernard Shaw is known by many as the most significant English playwright since the seventeenth century. He wrote fifty-seven plays in his lifetime, and a vast majority of them were revolutionary in their themes. On July 26, 1856, George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland. Shaw was the first son of his parents, George and Lucille, but had two sisters upon his arrival. Although they lived in Ireland, the Shaws were Protestants and George Bernard was baptized in the Church of England; however, he was never very religious and never enjoyed attending church....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
1931 words (5.5 pages)

The Play Pygmalion By George Bernard Shaw Essay

- People are always in the pursuit of erasing their flaws and becoming what society would say is "perfect." In the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw the main character Eliza Doolittle was not content with her life and her lamentable speech and manners. In order to become what she considered "perfect" Eliza relied on Higgins to change her into a proper and sophisticated woman. Higgins pounded lessons of proper speech and how to conduct one 's self with eloquence into Eliza 's head minute after minute and day after day....   [tags: George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion, Woman]

Better Essays
1068 words (3.1 pages)

Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw Essay

- "Pygmalion" by Bernard Shaw The word 'benefit' is defined as; 'a favourable or helpful factor or circumstance'. Many benefits are not immediately recognised, as they can be the result of something bad. In the play 'Pygmalion', by Bernard Shaw, Liza gains many benefits, but also disadvantages from her relationship with Higgins. Looking at benefits, she receives some beautiful clothes; 'I'm to have fashionable clothes' (p. 63), a good place to stay and financial ease. She meets other friends such as Freddy; 'I'll marry Freddy, I will' (p....   [tags: Pygmalion Bernard Shaw Essays]

Better Essays
1085 words (3.1 pages)

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw Essay

- Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw George Bernard Shaw's father, George Carr Shaw, was an alcoholic which meant not much money was spent on Shaw's education, therefore he was mainly self-taught, since he was self-taught he never had ideas forced upon him, this caused him to turn into a strong minded individual who expressed his opinions. He was a socialist and a critic who believed strongly in equality. Shaw wrote many plays, which expressed his opinions, one of the most famous being Pygmalion....   [tags: Pygmalion George Bernard Shaw Essays]

Better Essays
1237 words (3.5 pages)

Exploring Significant Themes and Social Issues in Education Rita and Pygmalion

- Both Educating Rita and Pygmalion explore significant themes and social issues, how effectively do you think these two playwrights dramatise these issues. 'Educating Rita': A play written by Willy Russell in the eighties and 'Pygmalion': A play written by Bernard Shaw in 1914 both effectively explore significant social issues and relate to significant themes. To successfully answer the question of how effectively the playwrights dramatise the issues raised, the use of settings, dramatic devices and characterisation will have to be taken into consideration....   [tags: English Literature]

Better Essays
1509 words (4.3 pages)

Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion Essay

- Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion The passage taken from Act 2 of Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion marks a critical turning point in the plot line and character development of the novel. The characters of Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins, who have met earlier by mere coincidence, have now deliberately begun a relationship, due to various motives. Eliza wants to move up in the hierarchy of society and Henry wants to prove his talent to Colonel Pickering. The extract is significant because it initiates a long learning process for Eliza and because Henry changes the next six months of his life, if not the rest of it....   [tags: Bernard Shaw Pygmalion]

Free Essays
1100 words (3.1 pages)