Character Analysis on Pygmalion

Play, like other genres of literature depends on various stylistic devices as well as characterization to deliver its message to the listeners indirectly. This is an indication that indeed characterization is crucial to literary work and thus cannot be compromised by any author. For instance, in the play Pygmalion whose author is Brandon Johnson, Eliza is depicted as the main character via whom the message is passed depending on how she interacts with the other characters in the play.

Through this channel of complicated relationship between these characters we release the journey of struggle and transformation in life of Eliza. Therefore this piece of work is going to conduct a character analysis of Eliza who is a character in the play Pygmalion.

Living in neediness and battling from everyday can be an extremely troublesome approach to carry on life. Majority of us, if given the open door, would endeavor to roll out improvements to our lives and our circumstance on the off chance that we could. Pygmalion is a play by George Bernard Shaw that recounts the tale of a poor, youthful blossom young lady who has been disregarded and ignored in light of her appearance and way she talks.

Notwithstanding the hard life, she’s still brimming with hope and dreams after the future, as it is revealed by the “”decorates”” on the divider in her ratty hotel and the fantasies she regularly has in her little piggery. She plans to be a woman in a bloom shop as opposed to offering at the side of Totten ham Court Road, however is denied in view of her accent which was dreadful.

The factor that keeps her focused on her destiny is that Eliza knows how to grasp opportunities when come to her. For instance overwhelmed Higgins gloats that the teacher can make her a duchess, she instantly grabs the open door and makes a visit to Higgins. This is the defining moment of her life; that is, the start of her change. Without the free character and the capacity to settle on right choices and right decisions, Eliza would have remained a poor blossom young lady all her life.

Eliza shows her determination once more by developing interest in Higgin`s life. Eliza enters Higgins’ living room with unexpected reasons. Her efforts to impress Higgins are seen at a point where she asks a character by the name, Mrs Pearce,Did you tell I’m that I came in Taxi?She needs to get used to white collar class behavior that both Higgins and her dad loathe. Eliza’s optimal is to noticeably become an individual from the respectable white collar class, and with a specific end goal to do as such, she should learn appropriate elocution and behavior. Yet, at that point we see that regardless of the first thought, Eliza’s fantastic endeavors to ace her lessons have their bases in the way that she has built up a “”doglike”” commitment to her two bosses ” a dedication which Higgins will at last reject and which Eliza will eventually announce herself free of in the following phase of her improvement.

While in company of Higgins, Eliza shows that she wasn’t assured of her security and this is the reason why she replies quit weird when Higgin saidsomebody is going to touch you with broomstick.Eliza on her side responded by sayingOne would think you are my father,this was an indication of the wrath she faced from her father. She also kept on doubting her own character and that is why she repeatedly says “I`m a good girl”.

The last two paragraphs depict Eliza as a completely changed person who is responsible for her own dignity unlike in the beginning where is portrayed as being a victim of circumstances. She is portrayed as a person who has temper control ,and who completely forgone life of characterized by vulgarity.

Feminism In Pygmalion

Writings will often reflect the cultural assumptions and attitudes of their time period, which includes the general insolences towards women: their status, their roles, their expectations. Pygmalion, a play written by Bernard Shaw, uses the feminist perspective to present a realistic or convincing picture of the world women live in, helping the reader better understand Liza’s internal impasse.

Act 1 begins with the author’s attempt to present idea of ?Eliza’, who at the time is a nameless flower girl amongst a cluster of pedestrians taking shelter from the rain. She objects to a well-groomed note taker (Higgins) writing down her words as she sells flowers, as if she’s doing something improper. She contests He’s no right to take away my character. My character is the same to me as any lady’s. Though a dirty, grossly dressed member of the working-class poor, she nevertheless exhibits strong-willed pride in speaking up to the gentleman and defending her character. This portion of the story helps the reader better understand Victorian culture, as they take respectability very seriously. Eliza refuses to let someone rob her of the thing she values as much as any lady. The play continues with Eliza upset that Higgins”a professor of phonetics”has been copying down her speech. The nameless flower girl persists in protesting her innocence and her right to share the street with him. Impatient with her complaining and horrified by her awful English, Higgins berates her for sounding like a ?sick pigeon’: A woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere”no right to live. Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and The Bible; and don’t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon. ( Act 1, Higgins.) His blatant disrespect to the female – Eliza – reveals to the readers his deep respect for the English language and his passion to hear it spoken correctly. This fact advances the plays narrative by helping the reader understand his profession later.

The second act starts to describe the note taker, Higgins, in further detail. Professor Henry Higgins is a phonetician, that makes a bet to take the lower-class working woman, Eliza Doolittle, from the streets and turn her into an upper-class lady. In this, he attempts to sculpt her into his ideal image of a woman by teaching her how to dress, speak, and act in proper company; which moreover will make her better off in society. I want to be a lady in a flower shop stead of selling at the corner of Tottenham Court Road. But they won’t take me unless I can talk more genteel. (Eliza, to Higgins & Pickering, Act 2). In light of the situation, her request demonstrates courage, because she”a nobody in society”is laying out her dream before these gentlemen. There is every chance one or both could crush it. The idea that the men are the ones with the power to ‘make-or-break’ her future relay’s the gravity of Elisa situation to the readers.

The story directly acknowledges the disparity seen in female inequality by having Mrs. Higgins“The professors mom“act as the voice of reason and caution throughout the play. You certainly are a pretty pair of babies, playing with your live doll. (Mrs. Higgins, Act 2.) At this point, Eliza dresses exquisitely, and her articulation is nearly perfect. However, her lack of social graces gives away her low-class origins. Unphased, Higgins and Pickering excitedly discuss her progress, yet speak of Eliza only as an object in the experiment. Mrs. Higgins sees how the girl as a person is being overlooked, and chastises the two men for their insensitivity.

The story conclusively reflects the cultural assumptions and attitudes of their time period, which includes the general insolences towards women: their status, their roles, their expectations.

Depiction Of Social Classes In Pygmalion

The social classes in the Victorian age were very defined and highly restrictive.  People generally didn’t interact with other classes other than in shopping centers. This makes Pygmalion’s theme of what truly separates the classes rather controversial for the time as it shows that even a flower girl can be taken for a duchess and become a lady.

In the beginning, everything about the characters is defined by their class. Eliza is introduced as the flower girl and Colonel Pickering as the gentleman. Eliza’s name is intended to be Liza, but Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering call her Eliza, as it is such a common name. They even joke about it repeating what appears to be a children’s rhyme, Eliza, Elizabeth, Betsy and Bess (Shaw 14). The two men on the other hand are always referred to by their titles in contrast as soon as they are introduced. Professor Henry Higgins is most likely named after King Henry of England which may be meant to highlight his position in authority; however, Eliza, Liza and all other variations likely come from Queen Elizabeth of England making her name once just as relevant to English history and chain of authority. This makes it appear as if instead Shaw intended the names to represent that Henry and Liza are indeed equals despite their socioeconomic classes. This is validated later on when Colonel Pickering and all who come to respect her refer to her as Miss Doolittle, until they are more familiar, and even if she is still the same person, perceptions change and while she was introduced as a commoner she can be believed as a lady of great social stature. This change in behavior reflects the theme of class differences as, the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated (Shaw 63). This evolution also enforces the idea that there is no true difference between the classes other than money, privilege, and respect.

The way that Victorian society is depicted in Pygmalion also focuses on the interactions of the upper class and teaching Eliza to behave in it. However, the audience gets insightful commentary of the workings of the lower class from Mr. Doolittle. Mr. Doolittle’s rise to the middle class and his unhappiness about it show how expectations differ for the classes and people modify their behavior accordingly. It serves as an example that anyone can rise up in class even without Eliza’s circumstances, yet despite his newfound status Mr. Doolittle is unhappy, as he is now unable to do things he used to. He is not allowed to do menial labor and suddenly there are relatives coming over wishing to claim a bit of his wealth. This difference in treatment now that he is deemed important emphasizes the difference in treatment of the same person before he was wealthy and after he was wealthy. It very negatively shows human behavior to those who people wish to exploit and those who people wish to impress and be on the good side of. This adds to the theme of the difference in the way the classes are treated. When the audience is reintroduced to Mr. Doolittle there is no mention of drinking or other debauchery, which may be a sign that some problems got resolved even if it was at the cost of his happiness. In addition, as a respectable man now, Mr. Doolittle is now likely no longer able to go out drunk anymore. This adds to how humans are adaptable as Mr. Doolittle reluctantly finds his way to fit into his new position and a change of class is accepted as respect is gained.

Pygmalion is about people changing their appearance and being treated so differently while being the same person. The perception of class and the respect automatically given to the upper class is showcased in complete contrast to how the working class is exploited.  Despite all this, Liza is equal to Professor Higgins in mind, spirit, and soul.

A Leading Theme In Pygmalion

Pygmalion is a play by George Bernard Shaw, named after a Greek mythological figure. It was first presented on stage to the public in 1913. The story focuses on young Eliza, a poor flower girl who is seen as an uneducated and rather unpropper and unpleasant girl because of her strong distinct dialect.

Two men, Higgins and Pickering, make a bet to themselves that they can turn Eliza into what they consider a proper duchess and an acceptable respected woman to society. She later agrees to participate to go forward in their bet in hopes of owning her own flower shop in the future. The plan later becomes a success and she is now socially acceptable. Though she later has mixed feelings about how to go about using her beauty and new found high ranking to mary a ‘proper’ man, the story ends with her remaining to be the new lady they made her.

From the very beginning of the play, we can see the unequal relationship between man and woman: Man is superior, woman is inferior. The male character is a language professor who is a gentleman of the upper class. Then there is the female protagonist that is seen as a meer mistake to society who visually that of the lower class. At the beginning of Eliza’s transformation, she is treated like a child rather than a paying customer. In this transformation she not only learns how to speak properly and manners, she finds her own firey spark under the teachings of Higgins. The man has created a ‘real woman’ and a satisfied wife for a man.

The theme of men creating the perfect woman is seen throughout the play. The position of being a woman is seen as the lowest in society. Eliza is seen only as an object for experiment. In professor Higgins eyes, she is only a ” creature,” ” a baggage,” one of the ” squashed cabbage leaves of covert garden ” and a ” damned impudent slut .” She is everything but an equal human being to man. In act two, Higgins even orders his house maid to take Eliza’s clothes off. We the reader don’t know whether his intentions in this order were sexual rather than intellectual. Throughout the play he is extremely verbally abusive to her, not treating her as a human at all. He treats her as how the author believes a woman should be treated.

Author George Bernard Shaw has shown his leading female protagonist bullied and degraded by the leading male protagonist. Though it is unknown about how Shaw feels about women, I believe that a lot of him is seen in professor Higgins. Higgins is a nasty and selfish man who shows zero regards for the feelings and well being of women. 

Main Ideas In Pygmalion

 Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw is a novel that can be interpreted to have many different themes. One of these themes is the theme of social classes and manners. The book was written in 1912 and takes place in London at the end of the Victorian Period. Shaw demonstrates what the social hierarchy was like during this time period and he also portrays his feelings on it throughout the book. Shaw shows the differences between the social classes at first, the interactions between people of different classes, and he shows the flaws of this system.

Shaw demonstrates what separated the classes in the book. He main things that were different between the higher classes and the lower classes were the clothing of the person and the manners of the person. In Act 1, a bystander comments on the clothing of Henry Higgins by saying that since his boots were nice, Henry was of a higher class. This shows that one could tell the difference between the classes just by looking at the clothes of the individual. Language was also a difference that was seen between the two classes. In Act 1, Henry Higgins says, You see this creature with her kerbstone English: the English that will keep her in the gutter to the end of her days. Well, sir, in three months I could pass that girl off as a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party.

Henry is saying that one could tell that Eliza was of a lower class just based on the words that she used. He believed that he could alter her way of speaking to pass her off as a higher-class individual. This shows that a person could tell the difference between the classes based on the clothes that they wore and the words that the individual used in speech.

Shaw demonstrates the theme of Pygmalion by showing the interactions of people in different classes. There was a separation of classes that was evident within the book. The Higgins family is a good example of a high-class family that saw the lower classes as people who should not be interacted with. For example, in Act 1, Henry Higgins says this to Eliza Doolittle when he hears her use language that was associated with the lower class, A woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere no right to live. Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and The Bible; and don’t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon. Henry views the words of Eliza to be of a lower class. He is obviously not a fan of this. He even says that a woman that speaks like that should have no right to be alive. This shows how Henry, a person in a higher class, viewed the language and customs of the lower class. Henry wants nothing to do with the lower class and thinks that they are not even worth being around.

Shaw institutes his ideas of he social classes and why he thought that the beliefs of Victorian England were wrong. Shaw used the transformation of Eliza and her father as a way to disprove a popular idea that people were born into a specific class and they could not change. The transformation of Eliza is shown in Act 4 when Colonel Pickering comments on Eliza’s change by saying, I was quite frightened once or twice because Eliza was doing it so well. You see, lots of the real people can’t do it at all: they’re such fools that they think style comes by nature to people in their position; and so they never learn. This shows how Eliza, a lower class individual was able to use her language so well that it was able to pass her as a higher class individual. Shaw believed that people of the lower-class could move up in class. All they had to do was learn how to present themselves in a better way.

The theme of Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw is social classes and manners. This idea is found throughout the book. Shaw starts out by showing the differences between the classes during the time period. He then goes into showing the reader how people of different classes interacted. Finally, he showed that the beliefs of the people during that time period were wrong. He does this by showing Eliza transforming from a low-class flower girl into a higher class individual. The entire plot of the book was centered around the views of social classes during Victorian England and how those beliefs were wrong, according to Shaw.

Pygmalion and An Exploration of the Ethics of Science

Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of the most brilliant writers of the American Renaissance, spun tales of human trials and failures that fascinate scholars, writers, and students while questioning transcendentalist beliefs through extraordinary prose. American Romanticism emphasized introspection and self-awareness, engaging with nature, and individuality, free from the conformity of past Puritan influence (Dincer 219). Dark Romanticism evolved as a subgenre of Romanticism, featuring themes such as science vs.

nature, where individuals attempt to make changes to theirs and the lives of others but fail in their pursuits (Dincer 220). In Hawthorne’s short story, The Birthmark, he debates the Romantic theme science is better than nature through symbolism and conflict between a Pygmalion protagonist, who believes science is perfection, and his antagonist wife, who argues the ethics of Science. American Transcendentalists argued for self-reliance, reflecting a new philosophical idea of introspection that circulated Europe, beginning in Germany. Introspection is a technique aimed at looking inside oneself to find truth rather than outside sources. Transcendentalists sensed a new era had arrived and were critics of their contemporary society for not conforming to new ideas and ridding themselves of past Puritan beliefs. When writing Nature, Emerson presented the thought that God did not create humans separate from nature as did previous teachings.

The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we through their eyes (Emerson 214). This line of philosophical thought is a seed from which Hawthorne could grow the nature is better than science argument. Combining arguments from Emerson and other Transcendentalists and the progress science was making with the dark romanticism elements of horror, death, evil as spiritual truth, and terror brings the conflicts between Aylmer and Georgiana to light in the science vs. nature theme. Hawthorne had had a great deal of exposure to the doctrines of the New England transcendentalists, who may have been responsible for Aylmer’s metaphysical dualism and, more particularly, his radical idealism (Rucker 447). The literary anti-transcendentalism movement to which Hawthorne’s role was significant, penned creative stories about sinful, bitter, evil characters who destroy human spirit without concern for morality. Authors of the anti-transcendentalism movement considered the uncertainty of man and his remorse for having sinned in their morbid, raw use of symbolism in their dark, macabre fiction that captivated audiences (Anderson and Lentini). Hawthorne, a writer of the rapidly emerging Dark Romance genre, wrote tales revolving around the human nature characteristics of guilt, cruelty, crime, and self-destruction all on display in The Birth-Mark (Anderson and Lentini).        

Pygmalion was a perfectionist sculptor who was obsessed with creating a sculpture of the perfect woman. He obsessed over the beauty he could create and fell in love with his creation. Pygmalion, according to David Kiersey’s four temperament types, was a Rational who believed nature could not compete with knowledge (McKenna). His rational characteristics drove him to perfection with no regard for the consequences. He would sacrifice everything to achieve his masterpiece, just like Aylmer. Georgiana, an Idealist on the temperate types, is an opposite to Aylmer’s personality and seems the perfect spouse, and she has a flaw for her husband’s Pygmalion rationalist personality to thrive upon. Georgiana’s idealizing of Aylmer makes him more fallible, blinding her to the dangers he posed to her well-being. Joined together, the couple forms a Pygmalion marriage, a temporary symbiosis that finally degenerates into vampirism (Zanger 366).

Aylmer’s marrying Georgiana, who is as close to perfection as possible in nature, pleases him, but his sudden attraction to the mark on her face, and the thought that he cannot love her while she bears the mark, seals their fate. In The Birth-Mark, Aylmer has everything going for him. He is a scientist who has recently married Georgiana, whose beauty was the envy of many suitors. Being the main character story means Aylmer must have a mission, a flaw to drive the plot. Aylmer’s idle hands transform him from a loving husband to an arrogant, mad-scientist, who examples the Dark Romance theme of science is better than Nature. In the view of dark romantics, human nature is not inherently good, which means anyone is capable of doing bad things (Caffrey). Georgiana, as Aylmer describes her, came so nearly perfect from the hand of Nature (Hawthorne 419). Her single flaw that kept her from being perfect was a birthmark on her left cheek, a crimson stain upon the snow (Hawthorne 419). To some folks the hand-shaped birthmark was a hideous thing while others would have risked life for the privilege of pressing lips to the mysterious hand (Hawthorne 419).

In Aylmer’s eyes the birth-mark symbolizes Nature’s imperfection, but since he believes science is better than Nature, he can remove it and create the perfect woman. Georgiana’s birthmark becomes the showcase debate of science vs. nature when, Aylmer, becomes like Pygmalion. In his youth, Aylmer immersed himself in philosophy, religion, physical science and physiology, culminating in an understand of how nature created its masterpiece man. As Aylmer’s Pygmalion-like personality emerged, with it he formulated a notion that he could improve this masterpiece. A Pygmalion Project is an attempt to sculpt another person into an improved version which the sculptor thinks is more suitable (McKenna 36). Georgiana, said he, It never occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed? To tell you the truth, it has been so often called a charm, that I was simple enough to imagine it might be so. Ah, up on another face, perhaps it might, replied her husband. But never on yours! No, dearest Georgiana, you came so nearly perfect from the hand of Nature, that this slightest possible defect which we hesitate whether to determine a defect or a beauty” shocks me, as being the visible mark of earthly imperfection (Hawthorne 419). This passage, near the beginning of the story, sets up the dark romanticism theme of science versus nature by demonstrating what Georgiana’s birthmark symbolizes to Aylmer and herself. Georgiana believes the mark was placed on her cheek by a fairy upon her birth.

This minor conflict reveals much of the different personalities and views on science and nature. Georgiana displays a carefree spirit by describing herself as simple enough (Hawthorne 419), meaning free spirit enough to be complacent with the charm on her cheek. Aylmer shows his Pygmalion arrogance by questioning if Georgiana has considered attempting to remove the mark. According to Marshal, the birthmark symbolizes “the power of Georgiana’s natural desires,” and Aylmer “projects his panic on the birthmark, thus creating an excuse to return to his laboratory, where he feels secure and in control” (Marshal 37-38). Selecting it as the symbol of his wife’s liability to sin, sorrow, decay, and death, Aylmer’s somber imagination was not long in rendering the birthmark a frightful object, causing him more trouble and horror than ever Georgiana’s beauty, whether of soul or sense, had given him delight (Hawthorne 420). This passage describes Aylmer’s self-induced inner conflict and sheds light on his psychological state. Aylmer’s uncanny reaction and rising fear of the birthmark causes a realization that their love will never be the same while Georgiana bears the mark. Aylmer’s internal conflict relates to the dark romanticism theme of science versus nature in which his faith in science drives him to believe he must remove the mark and restore her perfection to look upon her face as he once had. Even Pygmalion, when his sculptured woman assumed life, felt not greater ecstasy than mine will be (Hawthorne 421). Seeing her otherwise so perfect, he found this one defect grow more and more intolerable, with every moment of their united lives (Hawthorne 419).

Aylmer’s obsession with the mark and lack of concern for his wife’s feelings seems as though he married the mark rather than Georgiana. The mark is given so much attention by Aylmer that it has a life of its own with a personality created to taunt him. His dream of cutting out the birth-mark drove Aylmer’s need for a perfect creation even if her life was the cost (Herndon). To balance the tension in the story, Hawthorne gives the reader Aminidab, a Biblical name representing the leader of a noble nation (Walsh). Aylmer looked down to his assistant, describing him as being a lesser, flawed machine with little intelligence, but of the three, he is the voice of reason ignored. Aminidab sees the perfection of the birth-mark as much of society has and eludes to Aylmer’s overzealousness by stating, if she were my wife, I’d never part with that birth-mark (Hawthorne 422).

Aminidab’s statement and the tone with which it is spoken, suggests he love’s Georgiana, a woman who would not consider a man of his status for a marriage partner. Aylmer attempts to relieve the tension between he and his wife by transforming one of his laboratory rooms into a comfortable, brightly decorated room for Georgiana to rest. He successfully distracts her from the dangerous procedure they were about to perform by demonstrating his abilities on a flower which, like his many failures before, turned to ash below her touch, symbolizing her death. Aylmer’s failed attempt at creating a photograph also foreshadows the failure of removing the mark. Tension resurfaces with Georgiana’s disapproval of Aylmer’s admission he has created a potion that can extend a person’s life or kill them instantly, but he is keeping the world safe by not exposing his secret. Georgiana is skeptical of Aylmer’s ability to use science to rid her of the birthmark and make her more beautiful. Georgiana, as she read, reverenced Aylmer and loved him more profoundly than ever, but with a less entire dependence on his judgment than heretofore. Much as he had accomplished, she could not but observe that his most splendid successes were almost invariably failures, if compared with the ideal at which he aimed (Hawthorne 426). This passage brings conflict between Georgiana and Aylmer without a spoken word. Hawthorne’s opening lines elude to Aylmer being a better philosopher than scientist, leading the reader to believe he quite possibly only thinks he achieved success. The evidence of Aylmer’s failures reveals her husband’s imperfections and made him more human, producing a deeper affection for him, but causes her to question the procedure. The book symbolizes the failures in science to which Aylmer has turned a blind eye. The discoveries Georgiana makes of his failures and her reaction to them foreshadows her death. So deeply did these reflections affect Georgiana that she laid her face upon the open volume and burst into tears (Hawthorne 426).        

Georgiana confronts Aylmer while observing his nervousness while preparing the procedure, telling him his conscience will bear the suffering more than she if he fails for, for my share in it is far less than your own (Hawthorne 427). Her willingness to drink whatever poison he created to make him happy in their marriage was countered by Aylmer’s confession that he had administered the cure and failed, leaving only one last option to save their marriage.       

 Aylmer’s Pygmalion personality arose when he again demonstrated his potion’s potency on an ill plant that upon receiving its curing properties, stood anew before Georgiana’s eyes, her faith in him also renewed. To ease tension, Hawthorne gives the dark romance a comedic turn as she asks for the potion and Almer again appears as her savior, resembling a comic book hero with a Shakespearian voice, saying Drink, then, thou lofty creature! (Hawthorne 428). Like a Shakespearian tragedy, Aylmer did succeed in removing the stain from her cheek, but Georgiana’s death meant in the end, science was not better than nature and he fell victim to the dark Romantic theme of the scientist who failed in their pursuit. He heard Nature’s last laugh, for he had rejected the best that earth could offer (Hawthorne 429).

Problems And Emotions In Pygmalion

Contents

  • 1 PROBLEMS AND EMOTIONS IN PYGMALION
  • 2 Abstract:
  • 3 PYGMALION PROBLEMS:
  • 4 HANDLING OF EMOTIONS IN PYGMALION:
  • 5 THE PROBLEMATIC PLAY:

PROBLEMS AND EMOTIONS IN PYGMALION

Abstract:

Pygmalion is one of the famous plays of George Bernard Shaw. The Cockney dialect of Eliza creates crisis in her life. Shaw’s Pygmalion is which deals with struggles and sufferings of Eliza’s accent and mostly the love of Eliza was not acknowledged by Higgins.  Pygmalion is actually a feel of love but the major part revolves around problems, which discusses about love then class discrimination and finally leads to a miserable ending.

The love of a flower girl Eliza had been shattered by the rude Higgins. Although Shaw called this play as ?romance’ it is actually a problem play. It presents two problems. The first is the problem of education, and the second is the problem of the sounds of the English Literature.

PYGMALION PROBLEMS:

  As A.C. Ward has pointed out, the problem of education is a world problem.

 Education widens the horizon of a student and gives him intellectual, moral and spiritual enlightenment. He is taken to a higher level of thinking and feeling. And then the teacher leaves him free to taste has become refined and he has higher expectations from life. He cannot go back to his old life and remain happy. He develops desires and ambitions which cannot be fulfilled. The result is frustration and discontent.

   This is just what happens to Eliza. Higgins teaches her how to speak correctly; and Pickering trains her to move and behave in a refined manner. The result is that her mind develops and her taste becomes refined. And after the course is over, the teachers tell her that now she is free to pursue her path of life herself. She is bewildered and unhappy. She cannot go back to her old life, and she is not accepted in the higher society for which her teachers have trained her. What have you made me fit for? She asks. She was happy in her ignorance and dirt. Education and refinement have made her discontented. She tells her teacher, You never thought of the trouble it would make for me. To this Higgins replies, Would the world ever have been made if its Maker had been afraid of making trouble? This problem is particularly faced by teachers who teach students from the lower strata of society.

        The second problem that is presented in this play is that of the sounds of the English language. Shaw had great love and respect for English”the language of Shakespeare and Milton. He was disgusted with the harsh manner in which many Englishmen spoke the language. The uneducated people of London, for example, do not open their mouths and mispronounce all the words. This was the cockney dialect of Eliza.

        But why do people mispronounce English words? It is because of the defective English alphabet in which the letters do not stand for specific sounds. The same letter produces different sounds in different words. The English spellings are also very confusing. The result is that only men and women of the higher classes, who have been educated in good Schools and universities, are able to speak and write correct English. If a person speaks a word as it is written he often goes wrong. For instance, if a person tries to speak ?but’ and ?put’ in the same way, he would commit a big blunder.

      The English people are very sensitive to the way in which a person speaks the language. If a person speaks with the correct accent and pronunciation he is considered ?high class’. Thus Shaw found that a person is supposed to belong to the higher classes not because of any intrinsic merit or worth but only because of his accent and pronunciation.

   Eliza was considered ?low class’ because she spoke the cockney dialect. The fashionable flower-shops were not prepared to employ her. But after she has been trained to speak correctly, this illegitimate low class girl is regarded as a princess. If, therefore, the problem of language is solved, the glaring disparities between different classes will disappear.

   Shaw suggested that the English alphabet should be made phonetic. Each letter or symbol should stand for a specific sound. If that happens everyone will be able to pronounce English words correctly and class distinctions based on language will disappear. Shaw also advocated spelling reform. Thus the two problems presented in Pygmalion are: the world problem of education which leads to discontent, and the British problem of the sounds of English which leads to class distinctions.

HANDLING OF EMOTIONS IN PYGMALION:

         Shaw made the discussion of emotion, the main theme of Pygmalion. He chose the story in which Pygmalion finally marries his creation, Galatea. He wanted to show that this was a wrong understanding of human emotions. A creator cannot love and marry his own creation. His Pygmalion will live in close companionship with his Galatea but will have no sexual feeling for her.

         Shaw’s own story has tremendous romantic possibilities. Higgins picks up a flower-girl and undertakes with all his labour and art to transform her into a duchess. He is a bachelor. She is young, beautiful, intelligent and hard-working. He is a phonetician. She responds wonderfully to his teaching. In fact she has a better ear for sounds than he. He admires her receptivity and her talent. They live in terms of intimacy and within six months he becomes wholly dependent on her for his clothes and his engagements. Taking human nature as it is, the probability was that he should have fallen in love with her. When she leaves the house, he is terribly upset; and he and Pickering run about in search of her and even ring up the police. At his mother’s place he wanders about distractedly and says, I cannot find anything. I do not know what appointments I have. And then he says emphatically, But we want to find her.

      Shaw does not understand the feelings of his own characters, otherwise he should have understood that Higgins was in love with Eliza and the play should have ended with their marriage. That would have been the correct climax of the play. But Shaw suspected the emotions and had a horror of happy endings. So he ends the play in an improbable anticlimax.

         Eliza, after the Ambassador’s Party developed a personality of her own, and did not act as an unemotional plaything of Shaw. Her creator did not understand her feelings at all. Why was she in violent revolt against the unemotional, dehumanized attitude of Higgins? Shaw’s explanation that she wanted kindness, petting and admiration is wholly wrong. She was in love with Higgins. She marries Freddy only because Shaw forces Higgins not to marry her. Shaw makes much of her statement to Higgins, I would not marry you if you asked me. It must be remembered that she said this angrily after he had made the insulting proposal that she should marry Pickering.

       The Life Force in her was impelling her to marry Higgins. But because she could not have him, she married Freddy who was weak and helpless and had hardly any character.

      In his ?Sequel’ Shaw explained why Higgins was not attracted by young girls and why Eliza decided that Higgins would not do as a husband. But why did he have to explain this? Perhaps he realized himself that the readers and audiences would regard the end of the play as improbable and so he had to explain to them why the events took this turn. We cannot help feeling that the anti-sentimental theories of Shaw got the better of the dramatist in him and forced him to end the playa in an unromantic tense atmosphere.

     As A.C. Ward has said, In his determination to make the romance unromantic, Shaw has twisted Pygmalion from what would have been, by the principles of drama, its natural end.

THE PROBLEMATIC PLAY:

          Shaw was by nature suspicious of the emotions. He called this Play Pygmalion but he decided that his play must not end according to the Pygmalion-Galatea story. The play must not end with the marriage of Higgins and Eliza.

    But the characters that he created started behaving in a way different from what he had intended. The creations of great dramatists develop a life and personality of their own. They sometimes refuse to act in the way the dramatist wants them to behave; and if he forces an action on them, the readers start feeling that it is improbable.

     This is what happens to Eliza after the Ambassador’s Party. She had lived in great intimacy with Higgins for six months. He had given his best training to her and was very proud of her achievements. Eliza expected that after she had won his bet, he would propose to her. But after the party he only thanked God that it was all over. For him it had been only an ?experiment’. Her feelings and her future did not matter to him at all. That is why she revolted most violently and threw his slippers on his face, shocked him by returning the jewels and even the ring and left the house. If she had not met Freedy she would have jumped into the river and killed herself.

     Why was she moved so tremendously? Had anyone misbehaved towards her? No. Then why was she so much perturbed? Shaw’s explanation which he puts in the mouth of Mrs. Higgins is that she would have been happy if Higgins and Pickering had thanked her, petted her and told her how splendid she was at the party. But this is most improbable. It is love that she expected and not kindness. But Shaw, the anti-sentimentalist, would not admit this.

    It is true that Eliza tells Higgins, I would not marry you even if you proposed to me. But it must be remembered that she says that when she is shocked at his audacity in suggesting that she should marry Pickering. Shaw’s interpretation that she felt instinctively that she should not marry Higgins, does not appear probable in the play.

    Why then does she think of marrying Freedy? It is seen in the play that she does not think of marrying Freddy till that fatal night. When she becomes sure that Higgins would never marry her, she thinks of Freedy who had been in love with her for a long time. About Freddy she says, And if he is weak and poor and wants me, may behe would make me happier than my betters that bully me and do not want me.

     So it is clear that she wants to marry Freddy only because Higgins bullies her and does not want her.

     And what about Higgins? By forcing his anti-sentimental theory on Higgins Shaw has made his character improbable. It is unthinkable that a young professor should not fall in love with an innocent, talented and beautiful young girl with whom he has lived on terms of intimacy for six months. Shaw calls him a life-giving professor of phonetics but because of his beliefs he makes him a lifeless statue.

Moreover, there is a storm in Wimpole Street when it is discovered that Eliza has bolted. It is clear that Higgins would have declared his love for Eliza when she was found, if Shaw had not prevented him.

Thus judging from the situations and the nature of the characters the natural end of this play should have been an Eliza- Higgins romance. That would have been a better match than that between Eliza and Freddy. But in his determination to make the romance unromantic he has twisted the play and spoilt it.

Pygmalion: Example Of Feminist Criticism In Literature

George Bernard Shaw makes Pygmalion an excellent example of feminist criticism in a piece of literature. Throughout the play, we see male dominance over the females. He depicted how being a lady during the Victorian era changed how you were treated, and women were to act a certain way–the stereotypical lady-like way.

In the play, men were dominant over Eliza. Thus, changing her and her way of living making her dependent on them. Although most readers see George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion as a critique of 18th-century class structure, rereading the play with a feminist lens allows readers to see that it is also about the perverse expectations and the conflicting and oppressive views about the role of women.

 In Act V, Eliza voices Higgins hurt her because he wouldn’t care for her after all she does for him. Higgins says that he “[thinks] a woman fetching a man’s slippers is a disgusting sight…No use slaving for [him] and then saying [she wants] to be cared for: who cares for a slave?”(127) Offended, he asks how dare she carry slippers after he made a duchess out of her. In Higgins’ head, A girl that collects someone else’s slippers, or “slaves” away for another isn’t regarded as a respectable girl. He believed that a girl worthy of his respect is quite simply: a duchess. Which is interesting considering, the lifestyle of a duchess. They are provided no quality education or taught to work and provide for themselves. Girls were expected to wear the most up to date fashion. They must talk correctly, walk correctly, and sip their tea correctly. All this hard work- for a man. And if she refuses, she will be denied acceptance from high society members. Higgins is not a stranger to a contradiction. He is disgusted by Liza fetching his slippers and yet molds her to fit into a high society where women marry off then fetch her husband’s slippers- the exact same thing. To Higgins, that is the life a respectable girl lives.    

Shaw’s play was drawn from the myth of Pygmalion. These two narratives show how unrealistic and even unnatural the expectations that society often has for women are. Pygmalion’s perfect woman can only be attained with an artificial construct. Similarly, the ideal noble lady of British society is only a role to play. Pygmalion shows how oppressive these unrealistic ideals of femininity can be: to attain these ideals, Eliza must be coached, disciplined, and taught. She must pretend to be someone other than who she is-like Clara. According to Clara, in the sequel, she had “to muster all instinct’s that make her human to fit into the society she was born in”(146). 

Towards the end, Eliza showed the ability to be independent. She is capable of finding some success on her own. The play ends with the roles reversed and the men needing Eliza. But ultimately, Eliza cannot escape the constraints of the oppressive Victorian society. She tells Higgins that she desires independence, but we never see her actually obtain her independence in the play. At the end of the play, Eliza must choose between living with Higgins, living with her father, or marrying Freddy. In all cases, her future will continue to remain under control of a man. Eliza is greatly transformed over the course of the play, but it would take even greater transformations of society itself for women to have real independence.

Role Of Women In Pygmalion

In its simplest form, “Feminism” concerns the social, political, and economic equality of both sexes, and generally details the activism and adversities faced to achieve such equality. It’s a complex set of ideologies and theories, that at its core seeks to achieve equal rights for women and men. Writings will often reflect the cultural assumptions and attitudes of their time period, which includes the general insolences towards women: their status, their roles, their expectations.

Pygmalion, a play written by Bernard Shaw, uses the feminist perspective to present a realistic or convincing picture of the world women live in, helping the reader better understand Liza’s internal impasse.

Act 1 begins with the author’s attempt to present idea of ?Eliza’, who at the time is a nameless flower girl amongst a cluster of pedestrians taking shelter from the rain. She objects to a well-groomed note taker (Higgins) writing down her words as she sells flowers, as if she’s doing something improper. She contests He’s no right to take away my character. My character is the same to me as any lady’s. Though a dirty, grossly dressed member of the working-class poor, she nevertheless exhibits strong-willed pride in speaking up to the gentleman and defending her character. This portion of the story helps the reader better understand Victorian culture, as they take respectability very seriously. Eliza refuses to let someone rob her of the thing she values as much as any lady. The play continues with Eliza upset that Higgins”a professor of phonetics”has been copying down her speech. The nameless flower girl persists in protesting her innocence and her right to share the street with him. Impatient with her complaining and horrified by her awful English, Higgins berates her for sounding like a ?sick pigeon’: A woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere”no right to live. Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and The Bible; and don’t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon. ( Act 1, Higgins.) His blatant disrespect to the female – Eliza – reveals to the readers his deep respect for the English language and his passion to hear it spoken correctly. This fact advances the plays narrative by helping the reader understand his profession later.

The second act starts to describe the note taker, Higgins, in further detail. Professor Henry Higgins is a phonetician, that makes a bet to take the lower-class working woman, Eliza Doolittle, from the streets and turn her into an upper-class lady. In this, he attempts to sculpt her into his ideal image of a woman by teaching her how to dress, speak, and act in proper company; which moreover will make her better off in society. I want to be a lady in a flower shop stead of selling at the corner of Tottenham Court Road. But they won’t take me unless I can talk more genteel. (Eliza, to Higgins & Pickering, Act 2). In light of the situation, her request demonstrates courage, because she”a nobody in society”is laying out her dream before these gentlemen. There is every chance one or both could crush it. The idea that the men are the ones with the power to ‘make-or-break’ her future relay’s the gravity of Elisa situation to the readers.

The story directly acknowledges the disparity seen in female inequality by having Mrs. Higgins“The professors mom“act as the voice of reason and caution throughout the play. You certainly are a pretty pair of babies, playing with your live doll. (Mrs. Higgins, Act 2.) At this point, Eliza dresses exquisitely, and her articulation is nearly perfect. However, her lack of social graces gives away her low-class origins. Unphased, Higgins and Pickering excitedly discuss her progress, yet speak of Eliza only as an object in the experiment. Mrs. Higgins sees how the girl as a person is being overlooked, and chastises the two men for their insensitivity.

The story conclusively reflects the cultural assumptions and attitudes of their time period, which includes the general insolences towards women: their status, their roles, their expectations.

 

 

Class, Money And Moral Responsibility In Pygmalion

Literature viewed through Marxist perspective will often reflect the cultural assumptions and societal delegations of their time period, whilst simultaneously attempting to explain the world with rational and palpable evidence. Pygmalion, a play written by Bernard Shaw, uses the Marxist perspective to present a this or that picture of the world, helping the reader better understand how money and appearance (specifically language) play into public status.

           Pygmalion was written to reflect the Victorian ages, to which the author argues, seems that the upper and middle classes often had more success in their skirmishes while the working class poor-almost invariably-lose due to the insatiability of their employers, poverty-stricken living conditions, ignorance, and apathy. Readers can see evidence of the Marxist take, particularly in the character of Henry Higgins. In reference to Eliza, a working class flower girl, he says She is no doubt as clean as she can afford to be; but compared to the ladies she is very dirty. Her features are no worse than theirs; but their condition leaves something to be desired; and she needs the services of a dentist. (1.29) this demonstrates that more than just phonetics and dialect separate her from other women. The argument being that she would fit right in with more affluent society if she simply had enough money to take care of herself. This notion presents the severity of Eliza’s social impasse, by reflecting her current social status, in comparison, to other female citizens.

         The play doesn’t stop there. It continues to explore the elements of societal repression when introducing the character Alfred Doolittle, a “thinking man” (3.52). He seems to possess impressive intellectual qualifications, coupled with a more problematic moral aptitude. The latter characteristic spells out an unembarrassed pleasure in drinking and entertainment, even at the expense of others. His character invokes the authors aim to bring to light the vanities of charity by suggesting that man’s perceived ‘better-off-ness’ is a consequence not of his character, but of his financial situation. Proven accordingly, when he is thrust into a higher social class, not by updated speech or manner, but simply by money. Referring to Higgins & Pickering, he asks What is middle class morality? Just an excuse for never giving me anything. Therefore, I ask you, as two gentlemen, not to play that game on me. I’m playing straight with you. I ain’t pretending to be deserving. I’m undeserving; and I mean to go on being undeserving. I like it; and that’s the truth. Will you take advantage of a man’s nature to do him out of the price of his own daughter what he’s brought up and fed and clothed by the sweat of his brow until she’s growed big enough to be interesting to you two gentlemen? Is five pounds unreasonable? I put it to you; and I leave it to you. (2.273) He acknowledges the disparities of his social class and uses them to plead with Higgins for money, which in turn, would make him happy. Further identifying the stark connection of money and happiness, under Marxist analysis.

   In conclusion, The play, for the most part, did not portray real people discussing a real issue, but rather addresses serious issues of class, money, and moral responsibility. Understanding the Marxist perspective helps the reader better understand the the piece as a whole by exposing the severity of the varying situations-in how they relate to being successful within Victorian society.