Connection Between Pygmalion and the Film My Fair Lady
“Pygmalion” is one of the best works done by George Bernard Shaw. It is inspired by a Greek mythology of a sculptor name”Pygmalion” who makes a porcelain statue embodying his own ideal of womanhood, which he names Galatea. He is too mesmerized by his own creation that he falls in love with it. Pygmalion requests the goddess Venus to bring Galatea to life, she does that. Later, they starts living happily ever after. The drama “Pygmalion” is inspired by this mythology, and the film “My fair lady” is inspired by the drama. The main characters of the drama are Eliza and Henry. The dynamic due has a cynical chemistry between themselves which is different in the movie “My fair lady” from the drama, but the main theme of both is same except for the conclusion and tone of the environment. The drama leaves more of a serious message than the movie, the movie relies on entertainment purpose.
Academy winner movie “My Fair Lady” is directed by the enormous George Cukor. This film is inspired by G. B. Shaw’s drama “Pygmalion”, but we can see some distinction between the two. Specially, the tone of the film is way lighter than the drama and the conclusion as well. “My Fair Lady” is a romantic love story with a happy ending while Shaw’s play does not depict that. It rather emphasizes on Eliza’s self-respect. The romance in the play is incomplete. Shaw shows the romance within Eliza’s transformation from a poor and uneducated girl into a classy, elite and independent woman. Although, in both the play and the film the lead characters do fall in love with each other, Shaw’s play leaves it incomplete in order to make Eliza a respectful character. Cukor on the other hand focused more on what is sold good as a film. He knew that a happy ending makes it a better film for the audience so, he united the lead characters in the end. But even in the film, its seen how rude and ill mannered Henry is. Eliza is just a mere object to him whom he wants to shape according to his interest. His interest was to make Eliza eligible enough to behave like an elite lady. He is egoistic and pretentious. When Eliza masters all his techniques and antiques perfectly, he rather shows everyone how a girl from a gutter is now an utter elegance. He takes credit for it as a teacher ignoring the fact how fast and smoothly Eliza learns everything. She is only taken as a charming well spoken lady while deep down, she is going through identity crisis. She is afraid where she will live after all these learning process are done, she can surely see that for Henry, slippers are way more important than her. Despite all these negative aspects of Henry and his ill treatments towards Eliza, Cukor taking a happy ending for the film can leave a confusion in audiences’ mind. Specially, the male audience can get a bad message from the film. They can behave bad with their beloved female and get away with it.
“If the Higgins oxygen burns up her little lungs, let her seek some stuffiness that suits her! She’s an owl sickened by a few days of my sunshine! Very well, let her go – I can do without her. I can do without anyone! I have my own soul, my own spark of divine fire!”
This quote above shows how blatantly Henry is saying that whatever Eliza is because of him, or she only belongs to that gutter. According to him, she does not have any competence in her, she is ungrateful and she should be thankful for the lavish lifestyle which was bestowed upon her by Henry. In Shaw’s play this arrogance of Henry has been stretched till the end of the play which resulted in Eliza leaving. Shaw wanted to interpret a self of worth in a young poor woman. He wanted to show that how the class hierarchy of England back then had a huge impact on a person reshaping his lover. Henry for sure has feelings for Eliza but the social construct of that time makes him behave in a certain way with Eliza. Shaw was very particular with this message while the movie does not really care about that. I do not think that Shaw would like this Rom-com interpretation of his serious drama if he was alive.
I have read the original play before the film, and it had a better impact on me than the film did. The film is surely a catch for the eye and a good one-time watch, but it disappointed me with its light treatment of the whole content. As I can see how Henry’s intelligence was only limited to his knowledge of linguistics, I can also presume that in the same way, he has no sense of respect for people of lower class. He does have the ability to analyze discourse and assume people’s nationality by that, but I think he could not reckon the fact that he needs to be diverse in the same way when it comes to treat his student. I really did not like how Eliza ends up with him despite all the ill treatments he shoved upon her in the movie.
Lastly, I think from the beginning, Eliza has a sense of self worth and self-respect in her. She hesitates to take bath because she does not want to see her body; she is completely alright with whatever identity she has. She just wants to learn, but rather becomes a tool for Henry to get showed off as his success to others while get no appreciation for her hard work. She is less important than his slippers. Henry, just like Pygmalion wants to shape her which will cater his social status or his own ideal of womanhood, but every human is born with their own unique self which can be evolved but cannot be changed. This is the moment where the conflict begins which ends in their separation in the play but rather a cliche happy ending in the film.
Roles Of Female Characters in Memoirs Of a Geisha And Pygmalion
Feminist icon Ani DiFranco once said, “Patriarchy is like the elephant in the room that we don’t talk about, but how could it not affect the planet radically when it’s the superstructure of human society.” Patriarchy’s widespread ideology has resulted in the distorted belief that men are superior to women, affecting the lives of billions. Generations after generations, women could no longer bear society’s oppressive treatment and the discriminative culture they lived in. This gave way for the rise of feminists all over the world, some dedicating their entire lives into fighting for women’s rights and gender equality. In Arthur Golden’s novel, Memoirs of A Geisha, he illustrates the hostile life of geishas through the character of Nitta Sayuri, who was taken from her family and sold into an okiya -a geisha house- at the age of nine. A few years later, Sayuri becomes the apprentice of one of the most successful geishas in Gion, Mameha. Mameha introduces Sayuri to her clients and prepares her for geisha rituals such as choosing a danna and the ceremony of her mizuage. Throughout the novel, Golden incorporates multiple commodified relationships where women are exploited by men, to show the hardships faced by women within a patriarchal society. Similarly, in George Bernard Shaw’s theatrical play Pygmalion, he uses the character of Eliza Doolittle to illustrate how men objectify women. Eliza was born into the lower class, and due to her status, she is uneducated and lacks in social skills. One day, she meets Henry Higgins, a refined, high-class man and a scientist of phonetics. He proposes to transform her into a sophisticated lady using his knowledge of phonetics. Taking him up on his offer, Eliza becomes the object of Higgins’ experiment. Throughout their relationship, Shaw shows the hostile and degrading treatment of women in a patriarchal society; however, due to Higgins’ objectification of Eliza, she transgresses his power over her later in the play. Therefore, although both Eliza in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion and Sayuri in Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha comply with typical female stereotypes, Shaw does a better job at challenging patriarchy as Eliza transgresses male objectification near the end of the play, resulting in a more satisfying outcome than Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha.
Throughout history, every woman has been criticized and categorized into stereotypes. From the beautiful, but mischievous femme fatale who deceives men by using their appearance to their advantage, to the classic, noble, damsel in distress who needs to be rescued by the hero archetype. Danielle Arcon explains the problems stereotyping women brings into a society within her article, ‘We Are Not Damsels in Distress’. She illustrates, “A plethora of narratives and prose depict women as fragile, helpless characters in need of a hero…The knights in shining armor have dominated not just the pages, but pop culture as well…From such an early age, men and women have been programmed to believe about so-called “roles” and the belief that they’re too weak to do anything about it… Patriarchy (or perhaps plain insipidness) condemns women to supporting roles in the society” (2). This is evident through the two literary mediums as both Golden and Shaw demonstrate the issues women face within patriarchy through typical female stereotypes, relating back to Ani DiFranco’s criticism about the profound effects of male dominance.
In the novel Memories of a Geisha, Sayuri is illustrated as the femme fatale and damsel in distress. In the first chapter, Sayuri introduces her memories by saying, “I long ago developed very practiced smile… Its advantage is that men can interpret it however they want; you can imagine how often I’ve relied on it” (Golden 8). Throughout her life, she puts on a fake smile that allows men to think whatever they want and hides her true emotions underneath, characterizing herself as a femme fatale. Her smile illustrates a persona of the virgin, a beautiful, pure, and uncorrupted girl. The illusion allows her to lure men in by giving a seductive impression that she is sexually interested in them. Sayuri’s ability to frequently hide her true self underneath a mask shows that she uses her facial expressions to deceive and manipulate men, conforming to the femme fatale stereotype. However, she uses her beauty to delude men out of necessity, not pleasure. Her acceptance of being a femme fatale proves Ani DiFranco’s statement on patriarchy as it illustrates the oppressive control of patriarchy as Sayuri is forced to deceive men in order to make a living. In Memories of a Geisha, Golden represents Sayuri as the love interest of the Chairmen, pursuing his affection throughout the novel, conforming her as a damsel in distress. This is evident when the Chairman confronts Sayuri’s attempt to betray Nabu by sleeping with Sato – an unattractive, idiotic Deputy Minister who Nabu loathes, forcing Nabu to lose interest in her so she can build a relationship with him. During their conversation, he says, “You seemed so desperate, like you might drown if someone didn’t save you. After Pumpkin told me you’d intended that encounter for Nobu’s eyes…” (Golden 417). The Chairman considers Sayuri as a hopeless lady in need of rescuing and not as his equal counterpart. Tragically, The Chairman’s description demonstrates that Sayuri is unable to be genuinely happy until she has finally earned his affection. She relies desperately on him to save and release her from Nabu’s affection, letting herself be stereotyped into the classic damsel in distress. Sayuri slips further into patriarchy, does not transgress typical female stereotypes, and promotes the idea that women are unable to live independently, without a male subject present. Unfortunately, this ideology is also present in modern day society. Hit blockbuster films such as The Dark Knight rises or Mission Impossible all stereotype women and present them as the lesser sex. As Danielle Arcon proposed, Hollywood’s projection of women becomes problematic due to its colossal influence on younger generations, who might soon begin to look at stereotyping women as a social norm.
Similarly, Shaw also projects his lead female character as several different stereotypes, condemning Eliza Doolittle to society’s projection of gender roles. In Chen Lihua’s Canadian Social Science essay, ‘A Feminist Perspective to Pygmalion’, he explains that, “In Act 1, when the…protagonists first appear, we can easily find the difference: the male character…is an upper-class gentleman, whereas the flower girl is only a ‘creature’ with visible and distinguishing marks of the lower-class society” (1). Lihua’s analysis is accurate as Shaw presents Eliza as an uneducated woman who disregards rules of the English language and lacks manners due to her lower than second-class status. Eliza displays the girl next door and whore stereotypes as she is introduced in the first act as “…the flower girl ‘creature’” (Lihua 1), trying to sell flowers to the upper class for money. She meets an elderly military Gentleman who gives her some spare change, but a bystander informs her that there is a policeman taking notes on her actions. Anxious, Eliza begins to protest that she is a “…a respectable girl…a good girl…a poor girl…” (Shaw), not a prostitute accepting payment from a customer. She proclaims that she is innocent and did nothing wrong except try to sell flowers to the Gentleman. By accepting change offer from the Gentleman, society automatically perceives Eliza as a whore and degrades her based on their personal judgment due to her class and gender. Thus, she is almost stereotyped into a promiscuous whore for accepting a generous offer from a man, and has to defend herself by becoming another stereotype, the wholesome girl next door. Eliza’s forced actions demonstrate that she is oppressed by both society’s class structure and patriarchy as she feels the need to prove that she is not a prostitute, projecting herself as a virgin to prove her innocence which supports the idea of gender roles and male dominance. Eliza fails to transgress patriarchy and demotes the second wave of feminism as she condemns herself to the girl next door stereotype and degrades the publicized idea of social equality. Like Golden, Shaw also displays how quickly women are stereotyped and scrutinized, demonstrating Ani DiFranco’s concerns about the extensive influence of patriarchy. Therefore, both Sayuri and Eliza promote discriminative gender roles as they fall short of transgressing patriarchal power, and condemn themselves to typical female stereotypes as Golden displays Sayuri as the femme fatale, the whore, and damsel in distress, and Shaw illustrates Eliza as the virgin and girl next door.
For decades, women have been oppressed within patriarchal societies, becoming objects used for the pleasure of male subjects. This is evident in Golden’s novel as he shows the problems with patriarchy through the mistreatment of women. In Memories of a Geisha, Sayuri is unable to transgress patriarchy due to her status and desire to be recognized within her society, leading her to be objectified and oppressed by men. Nanang Muhammad Mahfudh supports this idea within his research paper, ‘Women’s Position in Memoirs of Geisha Written By Authur Golden (1997): A Feminist Approach’ when he states, “First…Arthur Golden wants to illustrate how women are subordinated and exploited in patriarchal society. Second…Arthur Golden wants to say that women Right [sic] are not given but must be struggled for” (1). Every apprentice geisha undergoes the dehumanizing ceremony of their mizuage, where their virginity is auctioned off and sold to the highest bidder. Sayuri’s objectification is evident leading up to her mizuage, at Mr. Baron’s – Mameha’s danna – party. During the party, Sayuri tells a story to Dr. Crab – an emotionless wealthy doctor who has a reputation for paying enormous amounts for girls’ mizuage, which illustrates an image of her naked. The Baron overhears the story and instantly becomes quite interested in Sayuri saying, “There isn’t a man here who wouldn’t pay quite a bit of money just for the chance to watch Sayuri take a bath. Eh? That’s a particular fantasy of mine, I’ll admit… Plenty of men act as if they don’t chase women just for the chance to get underneath all those robes, but you listen to me, Sayuri; there’s only one kind of man!” (Golden 248). The Baron’s clinical perception of men suggests that men are only interested in objectifying women into sexual objects to use for their own personal pleasure. He illustrates that some men are dispassionate and take advantage of women as they do not see them as equals. The Baron’s concept is evidence of males being the higher power within their society which displays a patriarchal class structure and the dehumanizing treatment women experience, proving Mahfudh’s analysis that women are demoralized and taken advantage of. On Sayuri and Mameha’s way back from the party, she tells her that, “…an apprentice on the point of having her mizuage is like a meal served on the table” (Golden 253). There she compares Sayuri’s life to a freshly cooked meal, indicating that she is like food, a powerless object that is ready to be consumed by men. Ironically, it is Mameha who made this comparison, which demonstrates that women within their society comply by patriarchal oppression and do not display significant attempts in transgressing male dominance. Additionally, Mameha’s comment connects back to Ani DiFranco’s quote as it proves that “Patriarchy is… the superstructure of human society.” Furthermore, Sayuri accepts being looked upon as a sexual prize when she agrees with Mameha saying, “Now that I had a high price tag on me…” (Golden 285). Both Mameha and Sayuri are evidence that women are stripped of their personal freedom and independence. Within their society, their lives revolve around entertaining men which relates back to Mahfudh’s argument that unlike men, women must earn their rights even though they are misused and objectified by patriarchal power. Sayuri does not transgress being dehumanized, oppressed, or sexually objectified by men, and accepts herself as an object has been stripped of her independence.
On the other hand, Shaw also projects the dilemma within a patriarchal society as Eliza Doolittle is objectified by men and used as a social experiment. Once again, Chen Lihau supports this argument as he writes within his analysis of ‘A Feminist Perspective of Pygmalion’ as he writes, “The woman character in it is seen only as an object for experiment” (1). When Henry Higgins meets Eliza, he is appalled by her lack of social manners and unladylike ways. He goes on to brag to Colonel Pickering that by using his knowledge of phonetics, in three months he ” …could pass that girl off as a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party” (Shaw), degrading her into an object of an experiment he would later take on. The next day Eliza shows up at Higgins’ house to take him up on his offer of English lessons. To make things interesting, Pickering proposes a wager to Higgins, saying, “I’ll bet you all the expenses of the experiment you can’t do it. And I’ll pay for the lessons” (Shaw). Higgins replies with, “It’s almost irresistible. She’s so deliciously low—so horribly dirty—” (Shaw). Both men are presented as subjects as they objectify Eliza and treat her like an object for their own experimental amusement. Higgins and Pickering demonstrate Ani DiFranco’s concerns about patriarchy as they dehumanize and strip Eliza of her personal independence and freedom. Thus, Eliza demonstrates how women are discriminated, dominated, and treated as property owned by men within a patriarchal society, creating gender inequality. Additionally, during their conversation, Higgins criticizes and mocks Eliza, calling her “…baggage…” (Shaw), and even asking Pickering whether he should “…throw her out of the window?” (Shaw). In this scene, Higgins does not regard or treat Eliza as his equal. Instead, he looks at her as someone who is insignificant within their society and beneath his social status, displaying the tyrannical treatment within patriarchy and between the upper and lower classes. Sadly, Eliza is forced into accepting his insulting treatment and becoming Higgins’ experimental toy in his bet with Pickering as she “…wants to be a lady in a flower shop stead of selling at the corner of Tottenham Court Road” (Shaw). For this reason, she fails to transgress male dominance. Like Sayuri, Eliza falls short of opposing objectification and patriarchal oppression, condemning the notion that men are superior to women and should be given supreme authority within a society.
However, later in Shaw’s Pygmalion, Eliza transgresses the overbearing, oppressive, and objective treatment shown by men, fighting the oppressive patriarchal class structure she was born into. This is evident near the end of the play when Eliza becomes infuriated by Higgins and throws a pair of slippers at him, yelling:
ELIZA: Because I wanted to smash your face. I’d like to kill you, you selfish brute. Why didn’t you leave me where you picked me out of—in the gutter? You thank God it’s all over, and that now you can throw me back again there, do you?
HIGGINS. How the devil do I know what’s to become of you? What does it matter what becomes of you? ELIZA. You don’t care… You wouldn’t care if I was dead. I’m nothing to you—not so much as them slippers…What am I fit for? What have you left me fit for? Where am I to go? What am I to do? What’s to become of me?
HIGGINS …I shouldn’t bother about it if I were you…You might marry, you know…You go to bed and have a good nice rest; and then get up and look at yourself in the glass; and you won’t feel so cheap.
ELIZA. I sold flowers. I didn’t sell myself. Now you’ve made a lady of me I’m not fit to sell anything else. I wish you’d left me where you found me… Before you go, sir— Do my clothes belong to me or to Colonel Pickering?…He might want them for the next girl you pick up to experiment on. (Shaw).
By this scene, Eliza comes to a point of self-realization demonstrating that Ani DiFranco’s distress concerning the radical effects of patriarchal power is being recognized. This is a turning point for her as she finally understands that Higgins has used her for his own personal amusement and has even made money from the experiment. As a result, Eliza can no longer withstand his objectification. She transgressing patriarchal norms by standing up for herself and fighting with Higgins about the way he objectifies her, and his dehumanizing judgments about her. Furthermore, Eliza recognizes that although she has developed into a lady of the upper class, she has lost certain abilities she once had before. Thus, causing her to remind Higgins that she came to him for help so she could make something of herself and become a person in society that people did not ridicule, not because she wanted to become the object of his experimental game with Pickering. Unlike Sayuri, Eliza displays feminine power, transgressing male oppression by showing Higgins that he no longer dominates or possess any control over her. Therefore, giving Shaw a more effective conclusion as Eliza is deemed a responsible feminist at the end of the play.
Shaw’s Pygmalion was well ahead of the feminist ideology present during his time (the Victorian era). As the internet, mass media, and feminism evolved, it has made Eliza’s transgressive actions common among women of the 21st century. The third wave of feminism developed the idea of ‘universal womanhood’ in the mid-90s and has prospered since then. Feminist such as Cassidy Boon stand up to patriarchal oppression by telling their stories of rape through media forms such as The Portly Gazelle, a feminist news & gossip site. In her article, ‘A Man Saved Me from Drowning, But Now I Am Suing Him for Rape Because He Touched Me’, she tells her story of her near-death experience, and how her male savior took advantage of the unconscious state she was in and sexually assaulted her. Boon described his actions as “…exerted his Patriarchal power over me and did stuff to my body without my consent”(4). She goes on to suppress male power by saying, “…if we start excusing rape just because our rapists did a nice thing to us, we’re really just excusing rape culture” (4). Cassidy demonstrates that women in today’s society are still objectified and taken advantage of by patriarchal power but, they no longer stay oppressed and silent about this matter. Like Eliza, twenty-first-century women speak out, transgressing patriarchal norms and male objectification, unlike Sayuri. Thus, making Shaw’s Pygmalion have a more enjoyable ending than Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha.
Overall, the lead female characters in both literary mediums surrender themselves to classic feminine stereotypes and male objectification However, Eliza in George Bernard Shaw’s play transgresses patriarchy near the end of Pygmalion, promoting gender equality and producing a more gripping ending than Memoirs of a Geisha. Throughout Memories of a Geisha, Sayuri condemns herself to sexual objectification and the stereotypes of the femme fatale, whore, and damsel in distress. As a result, she is unable to transgress male dominance, showing the prejudice women face within a patriarchal society. On the other hand, despite Eliza’s toleration of objectification and male oppression – shown through Higgin’s dehumanizing treatment, her ability to achieve individualization leads to her ability to transgress male oppression, objectification, and being condemned as the girl next door and whore stereotypes. Both Eliza and Sayuri display the common struggles women face within a patriarchal society. Men objectify and oppress women, believing that they are significantly superior, disregarding the fact that women are just as capable and talented as men. Patriarchy projects gender discriminating roles and the belief that men are better than women. It is still an ongoing issue within the twenty-first century as patriarchal ideologies are still presented within the society, affecting the lives of every person and greatly impacting today’s youth. As Ani DiFranco once expressed, patriarchy has become a critical issue “…affecting the planet radically…” and becoming, “the superstructure of human society”, but is rarely addressed or talked about.
Marxist Analysis on G B Shaw’s Pygmalion
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Anglo-Irish author of more than 60 plays and winner of both the Nobel Prize for Literature and an Academy Award (Oscar) (1930, for Pygmalion), as well as prolific producer of literary and music criticism, focused most often on social issues. He supported equality of political rights for women and protested what he saw as exploitation of workers; his socialist idealism was bone-deep, to the point where he refused to believe news of famine in the supposed rural paradise of the Soviet Union, despite all evidence of that system’s failures. This paper analysis G B Shaw’s Pygmalion on Marxist point of view.
Marxism was a literary school which its pioneers were Marx and Engels. They divided society into 2 major classes: Bourgeoisie and labors. Bourgeoisies are the minority who rules and set the norms on the society and take benefits while labors are just low class of society and workers who are trying to please that minority. None of these two categories can live without the other one; they just can be explained as living together. Then there appears a third class which is mostly middle class. They can be neither like bourgeoisies nor like the working class. They have a mixture of these two lives and norms.
Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw can be a good example of these classes of society. He discovered Marxism in 1882. Having read Marx in a French translation, he began to spread the word speaking out about Fabianism, the British brand of socialism he favored, just about-any place where people would listen, on street corners, in market squares, in parks, in town halls, and at political assemblies. In fact, Shaw’s oratory zeal almost got him arrested at least twice. A flower girl and a noble man can bring a situation to see the differences and study their behaviors and norms clearly.
Pygmalion is the story of a flower girl name Eliza and a Phonologist name Henry Higgins. Her bad language and accent attracts Higgins to take some notes and this accident is the beginning of their acquaintance when Eliza decides to change her language to find a job in a flower shop and become a lady. Higgins bet on her to win over the Colonel and make a duchess out of her then the journey starts. At the end of the play Eliza leaves him both are sad and wounded, one claims that she wanted more attention and respect while the other claims that has treated perfectly and as he has used to be. Eliza tells that she wants to marry the absent minded youth, Freddy to find love and respect and that drives Higgins mad and sad at the end. At first let’s have a look over the myth behind the play. Pygmalion was an artist who found faults in women at last he created a sculpture out of ivory, so beautiful that no women could be compared with and fell in love with that figure. Venus heard his prays and made her come alive. In this story Higgins tries to make a new girl out of Eliza and obviously falls in love with her. Higgins finds fault in women but why? Is he cold blooded like Pygmalion? Or is he too snub? We can categorize the characters of this play into three different categories, high class which includes Higgins, Pickering, Mrs. Higgins and Freddy, upper middle class, Mrs.Pierce and low middle class to which Eliza and Alfred Doolittle belong. Neither Col.Pickering nor Henry Higgins have a clue about the situation they are putting Eliza or themselves into. The different behaviors of the first and class group are noticeable. Pickering as a gentleman is too caring and polite and has no pain, just like Higgins, though, he is much freer in speech and action. The character of Higgins it can be said freer in speech and action. The character of Higgins , it can be said fits the Marxist stereotype of the greedy, manipulative bourgeois who exploits the working class in order to fulfill has own ends.
Hedoes not care about other feelings or thoughts which is one of the most obvious behaviors of the high class.
“Well when I’ve done with her, we can throw her back into the gutter;and then it will be her own business again.”
(Act II) Higgins’ nonchalant attitude regarding Eliza’s future is similar to how a bourgeois is interested in a worker only to the extent that he can use the worker for his ends; what happens to the worker at the end of the work day is of no concern to the bourgeois. For Higgins, what happens to Eliza after Higgins has won his bet is of no concern to him. Thus because he regards Eliza only as either a commodity or a worker only to be used to fulfill his designs, Higgins is a classicexample of Marx’s heartless, avaricious bourgeois.(http://culturemining.blogspot.de/2009/12/bourgeois-flowergirl-and-worker.html) Though he is not that much heartless as he shall be.
“HIGGINS. About you, not about me. If you come back I shall treat you just as I have always treated you. I can’t changemy nature; and I don’t intend to change my manners. Mymanners are exactly the same as Colonel Pickering’s.” (Act V)
When Eliza objects to he just simply says:
“LIZA. That’s not true. He treats a flower girl as if she was a duchess. HIGGINS. And I treat a duchess as if she was a flower girl.”(Act V)
Even at the beginning of the play Mrs. Pierce refers to his bad habits, the curses he uses all the time, the mess he makes and leaves everywhere and he never turns a hair to what others may think of him. On the other hand, Eliza always is trying to be a good girl that is the most common thought among the middle class and she repeats it all through the play:
“LIZA. You’re no gentleman, you’re not, to talk of such things. I’m a good girl, I am; and I know what the like of you are, I do.” (Act II)
Even at the end of the play she again refers to herself that she was a good girl and now after this change she is no good anymore. She begs for mercy and kindness which Higgins calls it “Puppy- Trick” and hates it the most. He asks her to have self-respect and do not seek it in the others behaviors.s
Main Ideas in Deborah Cameron’s The New Pygmalion: Verbal Hygiene for Women
The goal of this essay is to present an argument mapping of Deborah Cameron’s “The New Pygmalion: Verbal Hygiene for Women”. First I will define any important terms that are used by Cameron. Next, I will try to identify her central claim and any supporting claims that she makes in her argument. Then, I will assess and analyze the evidence provides for these claims. Afterwards, I will propose Cameron’s suggested use values. Finally, I will try to outline the format of Cameron’s argument.
One important term that seems to be mentioned very frequently in this argument is ‘verbal hygiene’. Verbal hygiene, at least in the context of Cameron’s argument, can be described as any attempt to improve or correct speech and/or writing. This is very similar to a concept discussed in lecture, which we referred to as the standardization/legitimization of language. Cameron seems to focus on the impact of verbal hygiene that women underwent when they participated in ‘assertiveness training’. Assertiveness training (AT), “focuses on particular strategies for communicating verbally: its ideal is, to quote a statement of purpose made by one leading British organization, ‘clear, honest and direct communication’” (144).
Cameron’s argument proposes a central claim, however within this central claim there seems to be a contradiction that arises as a result of her proposed formal-functional regularity, that she frequently refers to using the term ‘double-bind’. The form that is being analyzed is the assertiveness of women in professional settings and in her argument, Cameron points out that when women are assertive their actions are usually interpreted as non-feminine, but when they choose not to be assertive they will not be taken seriously. This is the ‘double-bind’ that Cameron refers to, which can also be described as a ‘lose-lose’ situation, and Cameron points this out when she asks, “On one hand, being assertive and direct carries an extra risk for women because it is seen as ‘unfeminine’ behavior; on the other hand, would we therefore want to recommend that women should stick to acting out traditional stereotypes?” (153). Cameron’s proposed formal-functional regularity seems to have two negative outcomes in which women seem to lose in both situations, if they choose to be passive or assertive. In order to support her claim, she points out that there has been a pattern of assertiveness training that seems to target women and it also seems to criticize their speech and promote verbal hygiene.
Cameron relies on ethnographic support to defend her central claim. She studies the effect of AT classes and texts on sixteen test subjects. In these training programs the women were taught how to act like men, with the goal of preparing them for the workplace. However, what Cameron found was that these classes back fired and ending up decreasing the confidence levels of these women because acting like men was just as bad as acting like a woman in professional settings.
A great deal of Cameron’s argument seems to reference Shaw’s book, Pygmalion, and My Fair Lady. These examples are excellent depictions of verbal hygiene, however Cameron fails to account for the fact that these are pieces of fiction, and thus her claims that are based off of these works cannot be considered very strong evidence. However, she relates these works to real world examples, which seems to strengthen her argument. For example, she discusses the gender bias that is present in Pygmalion, and relates it to Northern Ireland, where “it is still thought more important for girls than for boys to moderate their stigmatized local accents” (140). Cameron also discusses the predicament that Margaret Thatcher faced, and makes it clear “that there are additional pressures on women’s speech that have less to do with the linguistic markers of class and more to do with those of gender per se” (140). Although these examples are not necessarily directly related to the author’s central claims, they provide strong support for the prejudice that is faced specifically by women.
The use value of Cameron’s work seems to be to point out the flaws of the assertiveness training when it comes to women. She wants to make it clear that although these courses seem to have good intentions, the ‘double-bind’ ends up hurting women in professional settings, by teaching them how to be assertive in the wrong way. Cameron says, “But we need to be clear about what it is we criticize: not the idea of self-transformation per se, but the banal and stereotypical images in which the pundits and experts of the self-help industry would like us to be transformed” (168). Thus, it seems that Cameron believes that these verbal hygiene programs need to be redesigned to free from “the restrictive norms of linguistic femininity” (168).
In conclusion, I will present an outline of Cameron’s argument. First she proposed a formal functional regularity in her central claim and supported it with subsequent claims and ideologies. She supports these claims using a variety of texts and studies, and presents ethnographic support and appropriate anecdotes. She also provides use value for her research to make it clear how her research could be applicable to society.
The Didactic Discourse of the Text
Years before he became the greatest living writer of comedy, Shaw was an ardent social reformer. “My conscience”, he once wrote, “is the genuine pulpit article; it annoys me to see people comfortable when they ought to be uncomfortable; and I insist on making them think…” Shaw’s brand of socialism never won many converts, but his wit did shock people into thinking.
In ‘Pygmalion’ he finds a mouthpiece in the highly original character of Alfred Doolittle, a chimney sweep, who admits he is one of the “undeserving poor” and openly glories it. Just because he is undeserving, Doolittle demands that Professor Higgins pay him 5 pounds for using his daughter Eliza for experiments in phonetics. “I don’t need less than a deserving man: I need more.” For the suggestion, “Why don’t you marry that missus of yours”, Doolittle replies “I’m willing. It’s me that suffers by it. I’ve no hold on her. I got to be agreeable to her…I’m a slave to that woman” Higgins is so amused by this paradoxical logic that he gives the undeserving Doolittle 5 pounds.
Shaw used detailed stage directions to retain a degree of control over the performance. For Shaw, unless a play has some “use”, it is without value. There is an acknowledged didactic function. Shaw brought forward the idea of the “sugar-coated pill”. Throught the detailed stage directions, the focus is much better defined by Shaw. With Shaw, idea has primacy and then plot comes.
Pygmalion deals with some fascinating themes, not the least of which is female emancipation. Higgins himself admires independence but, in turning Eliza into a model lady, he creates a creature unable to stand on her own. As a flower girl, Eliza had independence and a job, lowly as it was; as a lady, her options are considerably narrower.
Shaw brings forth the function of the environment. He shows that class-distinction is founded upon the varied environmental situations rather than lineage. In the beginning of the play, we see how Higgins engages himself to place any person from the manner of his speech. In Eliza’s case, when her manner of speech with the Cockney accent is replaced by fine eloquence of a lady, her status is automatically raised.
The play Pygmalion also deals with the futility of social barriers. The very challenge that Higgins takes up to pass Eliza, an uneducated…as a duchess within six months makes this conception of social barriers baseless. Shaw mocks at this feeble social demarcation that can be easily overcome in such a short period of time. Eliza’s ambitious nature and zest for life ultimately bring her success. With her perseverance, Eliza finally climbs the social ladder, suggesting the vulnerability of social distinction.
Moreover, Alfred Doolittle is a licentious man, enough to sell his daughter for a meagre amount of five pounds. Our conventional morality is shaken when he explains why his woman prefers to remain his mistress instead of becoming his wife. It is an outrageous comment on the very institution of marriage. Shaw brings out the mindset of the people of his times.
Shaw highlights some social issues that elucidate how unfair discriminations are meted out to poor people. Doolittle calls himself an “undeserving poor”, a caustic remark upon his wretched condition. He is victimized by unfair means of the social system. Shaw denounces the social system that fails to encourage the moral and financial upliftment of the poor people. Instead, it degrades their poor condition, by putting a stigma of “undeserving” before them, thereby encouraging them to indulge in more wrongful acts. Shaw’s enemy is Capitalism and Imperialism. The disparity of the acquisition of wealth becomes a target of Shaw’s criticism.
The sudden acquisition of wealth raises the status of the Doolittles, however, they do not earn self-respect unlike Eliza. As a person, Alfred Doolittle is more irresponsible. He does not know how to spend all the money thus claiming that acquiring wealth to enter society has “ruined me”.
Furthermore, the importance of phonetics and enunciation is highlighted in the play Pygmalion. It is one of the means through which the social barrier is eradicated. Eliza turns into an elegant, sophisticated woman by learning the nuances of pronunciation from Higgins. This emphasizes the significance of phonetics in social reformation.
Shaw began his career as an advocate of Fabian Socialism. As a socialist he believes in a classless society. The weakness of such class demarcation comes up as the target of Shaw’s inimitable mockery. Both Eliza and Doolittle are victims of uneven distribution of wealth and both of them eventually transcend their class, however, their development does not occur simultaneously. The moral development of Eliza makes her distinct from the Doolittles. The vulnerability of class distinction constitutes the essential message of the play.
Superficiality of the Upper Class and Society’s Expectations
In comparing the Edwardian era – that is, the early 20th century – to the modern age, we can see that some distinct social constructs and class systems are present in both. However, social and class-related barriers are noticeably more porous in today’s world. George Bernard Shaw’s most famous play Pygmalion, set in Edwardian times, was perhaps a harbinger of this progressive shift, in its vigorous attempts to discredit and expose the superficiality of the class separations. The ‘heroine’ of the play, Eliza Doolittle, undergoes a dramatic and severe transformation from a ‘draggletailed guttersnipe’ to an unrecognizably polished lady, but she ultimately fails to integrate smoothly into the society which she so idolized at the play’s beginning. It is established and perpetuated throughout the play that Eliza is not exactly a predictable character: for a poor flower girl, she upholds moral decency and exhibits self-respect to a degree perhaps not even mirrored by the upper class with which these values were more commonly associated. Through the character of Eliza, and the treatment of Eliza by the upper class, Shaw exposes the superficiality of a class system which, in his view, is underpinned by a very shallow preoccupation with appearance and language. While it is evident from the preface that Shaw places great value on the power of language and the respect that it commands, through Pygmalion and its characters such as Doolittle, we also learn that control and mastery of language are not the be all and end all of a person’s character. High society however, seems not to notice this, and it is this cursory judgement of others by members of the upper class that Shaw aims to condemn through Pygmalion.
Early on, Eliza is very much the poor flower girl and street beggar who would have been a typical nuisance to the upper class theatre-goers who were expected to view Pygmalion; however, Eliza’s true self is anything but typical. Her complex character is gradually unfurled through aspects of her speech such as her frequent proclamations of her being ‘a good girl’, helping to convey her innate self-respect, and her later insight that she ‘sold flowers. [She] didn’t sell [herself].’ The upper class in Edwardian society generally held a steadfastly negative view of the poor like Eliza: it was presumed that in order to make ends meet, someone like Eliza would have resorted to selling her body. Eliza however, breaks this mould, and the audience becomes privy to Eliza’s seemingly unusual self-respect. Some of this is due to the unorthodox length of Shaw’s narrations, such as his description of Eliza being ‘as clean as she can afford to be’. This morality and decency can easily be compared to the values of the upper class, who are depicted throughout the play as treasuring morality, conveyed by their horror at Eliza’s careless attitude towards her father’s alcoholism, and their disdain towards her use of expletives. Furthermore, a sense of Eliza’s aspirations is conveyed through the fashion board of dresses, far beyond her means, which she keeps in her bleak lodgings, and by the ‘American alarum clock’. These possessions show her idolization of the upper society’s culture. Combined with her morality, her aspirations present to the audience a character who is almost worthy of the upper class, her potential and integrity obscured by the roughness of her appearance and language.
Once Eliza’s qualities are revealed, the way in which Eliza is treated by members of the upper class is examined — and is meant to be viewed by the audience as unjustified. The sensitivity of Eliza’s own nature is paramount, and is constructed through lines which attempt to reverse the dehumanization of Eliza (and other members of the lower class) by members of the upper class who were expected to view the play. As Eliza declares, ‘I got my feelings same as anyone else’. Once the audience understands how sensitive Eliza really is, and understands her general decency and self-aspirations, Higgins’ suggestions to ‘throw her back on the street’ once she has been toyed with in his experiment becomes uncomfortable for the audience. Ultimately, the play’s viewers and readers are forced to confront and reflect upon their behavior with a consideration for members of the poor such as Eliza. The external features of Eliza, such as her speech and appearance, are what impede her being accepted by the higher class. The rejection she experiences is fundamentally a product of superficiality — of the obsession of the upper class with outward appearances despite morality, tenacity, and general amiability.
The character of Doolittle, Eliza’s father, diametrically opposes that of his daughter. He is neither moral, nor ambitious. He does not claim to be one of the ‘deserving poor’, instead working just enough to be able to splurge on a drinking spree now and again, and he rejects any substantial amount of money for fear of the need for better behavior that would come with it. He does however, have an unusual affinity for language, or as Higgins puts it, ‘a certain natural gift of rhetoric’. Hints towards the upper class’ preoccupation with language are lain when Higgins states that, with his natural talent for poetic and persuasive speech, Doolittle ‘could choose between a seat in the Cabinet and a popular pulpit in Wales’ under his teaching, conveying the overwhelming focus of high society on language. Despite the comical nature of this statement, what later transpires in the play is noticeably similar to Higgins’ quip. While this comedy can keep an audience of well-to-do people pleased with its line-by-line cleverness, it also eventually serves an ironic purpose. The fact that Doolittle does become successful in the upper class, despite the initial absurdity of this idea, speaks volumes about the shallow nature of high society. After all, this society accepts Doolittle based on his linguistic ability alone, disregarding his obvious moral flaws — and disregarding the elite’s general claim to champion decorum and virtue.
Many parallels can be drawn between the character of Eliza Doolittle and the upper class. She respects herself, and her moral integrity is constantly conveyed through her protestations against Higgins’ stereotypical treatment of her. Even though the upper class essentially considered itself the paradigm of morality and virtue, the barrier between Eliza being accepted into a higher social milieu is not a lack of morals (as would be expected from a street beggar) but her speech and appearance. Higgins’ phonetic clients, similarly, ‘give themselves away every time they open their mouths’. The upper class’ inability to accept Eliza despite her alignment with so many of their supposed views is made even more ironic, and more noticeably shallow, when her father (who is in many ways less praiseworthy) makes a roaring success of himself among the upper class. Through Pygmalion, and through these two characters, Shaw exacts a scathing criticism of the superficiality of the upper class under the guise of the comedy and drama of the play. Shaw states in his preface that all art should be didactic, and he seems to have achieved both didactic and satisfying art with Pygmalion. The well-to-do members of the audience are ultimately forced to consider whether their treatment of others can truly be justified, and whether others can simply be taken on face value alone.
The Summary of Pygmalion
Summary of Pygmalion On a summer season night in London’s Covent backyard, a gaggle of assorted persons are gathered collectively under the portico of St. Paul’s Church for security from the rain. Among the workforce are Mrs. Eynsford-Hill and her daughter, Clara, who are ready for the son, Freddy, to come back with a cab. When he returns in failure, he is again sent in search of a cab. As he leaves, he collides with a younger flower lady with a thick Cockney accent, and he ruins a lot of her flowers.
After he is gone, the mummy is keen on how any such “low” creature might comprehend her son’s title; she discovers that the flower girl calls every person either “Freddy” or “Charlie.” When an aged gentleman comes into the refuge, the flower woman notes his amazing appearance and tries to coax him to purchase some plants. This gentleman, Colonel Pickering, refuses to purchase the flowers, but he gives the girl some money. Individuals of the gang warn the lady in opposition to taking the cash when you consider that there is a man behind her taking notes of everything she says. When the flower girl (Eliza) loudly broadcasts that “I am a just right girl, I’m,” the bystanders begin to protest.
The observe taker, it turns out, is Professor Henry Higgins, an proficient in phonetics. His interest is deciding upon each person’s accent and location of birth. He even maintains that he might take this “ragamuffin” of a flower woman and educate her to speak like a duchess in three months. Right now, the elder gentleman identifies himself as Colonel Pickering, the writer of a booklet on Sanskrit, who has come to meet the famous Henry Higgins, to whom he’s now talking. The two go off to speak about their mutual curiosity in phonetics. The next morning at Professor Higgins’ house, the two guys are discussing Higgins’ experiments when the flower woman is introduced by means of Mrs. Pearce, Higgins’ housekeeper.
The girl, Eliza Doolittle, remembers that Higgins bragged about being able to coach her to converse like a duchess, and she or he has come to take lessons in order that she can get a role in a flower store. Pickering makes a wager with Higgins, who, in the spirit of fine activity, decides to take the wager: he orders Mrs. Pearce to take the girl away, scrub her, and burn her clothes. He overcomes all of Eliza’s objections, and Eliza is taken away. At the moment, Eliza’s father appears with the intention of blackmailing Higgins, however he’s so intimidated by Higgins that he finally ends up inquiring for five pounds on the grounds that he is without doubt one of the “not worthy terrible.” Higgins is so joyful with the historical fellow’s audacity and his particular view of morality that he gives him the five kilos and it is right away rid of him.
Sometime later, Higgins brings Eliza to his mother’s apartment in the course of her “receiving day.” Freddy Eynsford-Hill and his mother and sister Clara are additionally gift. These turn out to be the identical folks whom we noticed beneath the portico within the first act. Now, nevertheless, none of the visitors appreciate that Eliza is the “ragamuffin” flower girl of that nighttime. All people is amused with the pedantic correctness of her speech and are even more impressed with Eliza’s narration of her aunt’s dying, advised in perfect English, however informed with lurid and shocking details.
After Eliza’s departure, Mrs. Higgins features out that the girl is a long way from being competent to be offered in public. Sometime later, Higgins, Pickering, and Eliza return late in the night. The guys are delighted with the great success they’ve had that day in passing off Eliza as a first-rate duchess at an ambassador’s backyard occasion. They are so totally proud that they utterly ignore Eliza and her contribution to the success of the “experiment.” Infuriated, Eliza eventually throws a slipper at Higgins, most effective to be informed that she is being unreasonable. Eliza is worried with what will occur to her now that the experiment is over: Is she to be tossed again into the gutter; what is her future place? Higgins cannot see that this can be a problem, and after telling her that the entire garments that she has been carrying belong to her, he retires for the evening. The following day, Higgins arrives at his mom’s residence fully baffled that Eliza has disappeared. He has telephoned the police and is then amazed to be trained that Eliza is upstairs.
While waiting for Eliza, Mr. Doolittle enters and he accuses Higgins of ruining him because Higgins advised a wealthy man that Doolittle was England’s most normal moralist, and, therefore, the man left an enormous sum of money in trust for Doolittle to lecture on moral reforms. He has thus been pressured into center-type morality, and he and his common-regulation spouse are miserable. He has come to invite Eliza to his wedding, one other concession to dreadful middle-category morality. Eliza enters and consents to come to her father’s marriage ceremony.
As they, all prepare to go away; Higgins restrains Eliza and tries to get her to come back to his condo. He maintains that he treats everybody with whole equality. To him, he makes no social difference between the way he would treat a flower lady or a duchess. Eliza is decided to have recognize and independence, and consequently she refuses to come back to Higgins’ apartment. Higgins then admits that he misses her and admires her newfound independence. He additional keeps that she must return, and the three of them will reside equally, as “three bachelors.” Eliza, however, feels otherwise, and she leaves with Mrs. Higgins to attend her father’s wedding.
Corruption of innocence in ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘Pygmalion’
The societal aspects of their writing made Dickens and Shaw two of the most influential figures of revolutionary and socio-political writing. William Blake, however, was also significant, especially through his work Songs of Innocence and Experience where he gave the marginalised figures of society a voice of their own. Blake attempted to emphasise the corrupted innocence of children. Charles Dickens’ writing has strong connections to Marxism however after this went out of fashion, ‘Dickens’s amorphous social critique came to seem more universally true because it was not programmatic but based on feelings of generosity and brotherhood combined with specific criticisms of practices common in England during his lifetime.’ One critic in particular suggests that Dickens was not aware of the radicalisation of his writing and the influences he was having on society, writing ‘The difference between Marx and Dickens was that Marx knew he was a revolutionist whilst Dickens had not the faintest suspicion of that part of his calling’.
George Bernard Shaw, in later years, then expanded upon Dickens’ ideologies. In an interview Shaw said that ‘The middle and upper classes are the revolutionary element in society; the proletariat is the conservative element’. This is shown in all of these authors’ writing as the proletariat is often punished and described harshly. The three authors base their writing strongly around social normalities in order to emphasise the impact that a strong desire can have on the mind. This is seen through the manipulation of the weaker characters whose innocence is often corrupted.
The desire for self-satisfaction by key characters in the novels and their willingness to manipulate others, usually the most naive, provides a sound base to explore whether or not innocence has been corrupted. The manipulatory figures in the novels are Miss Havisham, her desire to manipulate based upon her hatred of men, and Higgins’ with his constant need for personal enjoyment, which together place focus upon the different mindset that Magwitch possesses as he attempts to influence Pip’s life through his selflessness and desire to reward goodness despite his own palpable mistreatment at the hands of a corrupt legal system. Pip stealing ‘wittles’ for Magwitch in the opening chapter of the Great Expectations proves a stimulus for the subsequent theme of humility and generosity which in itself contracts with Pip’s own selfish development.
This is a point that Dickens exploits to highlight the cruelty of Havisham who seeks bitter revenge. An innocent boy, Pip, becomes blinded to those who are less fortunate thereby forgetting his own roots. Dickens is making clear that power – derived through the misuse of wealth and status is a corrupting force. Dickens’ voice, Pumblechook, observes ‘the stupendous power of money’, with the adjective ‘stupendous’ , used in its negative sense, accentuating how this is not the way in which high class society should be operating. Professor Higgins, too, uses his wealth to use Eliza as a social experiment rather than to genuinely be of benefit. Like Pip she is lifted out of her real life although for her, at least, there is a happy ending. Dickens uses language to great effect, leaving the audience in no doubt as to his conviction. Miss Havisham constantly manipulates Pip and Estella as when she tells Estella to ‘break his heart’. The use of the imperative ‘break’ shows Miss Havisham is impassioned, cold and cruel, effectively demanding she seeks vengeance on male society. Success will guarantee the destruction of the innocence of both Pip and Estella. Miss Havisham’s desire for vengeance due to her hatred of men can also be seen in her linguistic nature and self-description. ‘On this day of the year, long before you were born, this heap of decay’ – ‘was brought here. It and I have decayed together’.
The repetition of the noun ‘decay’ which is then transformed into the verb, ‘decayed’, shows Miss Havisham’s feelings after being jilted. Male Society has harshly influenced her life in such a way that she feels like death is the only part left. To emphasise this she says that they ‘have decayed together’. It is clear to see that she related herself to the ‘heap of decay’ to imply that she too is a of that nature. In stark contrast in one of his internalising monologues Pip states that ‘Ours was the marsh country’. The use of the possessive pronoun shows Pip is proud of where he comes from which contrasts his older self as he says, ‘I would feel more ashamed of home than ever, in my own ungracious breast’. It is clear to see Pip has realised he has been manipulated through the use of the word ‘ungracious’ which highlights how he is now acutely conscious of his failing.
The common hatred of men and constant desire for autonomy is explored also by Dickens in Sketches by Boz. In the sketch, Ladies’ Societies, a key quotation to support this hatred is, ‘the unthinking part of the parishioners laughed at all this, but the more reflective portion of the inhabitants abstained from expressing any opinion on the subject until that of the curate had been clearly ascertained.’ This is a clear example of the patriarchy ridiculing female society whenever they try to accomplish something themselves.Higgins attempts to corrupt Eliza’s innocence in a similar style to that of Miss Havisham. This is through his lack of care but desire for joy and self-satisfaction. Pickering says to Higgins at one of their first meetings with Eliza that ‘“she is no doubt as clean as she can afford to be; but compared to the ladies she is very dirty”’.
This emphasises the nature of high society as they are ridiculing her for what she can afford. His harsh and unloving attitude towards Eliza is clearly noticed when in dialogue with Pickering he states, ‘The girl doesn’t belong to anybody – is no use to anybody but me’. This caesura to break up the sentence results in Bernard Shaw clearly creating a foreboding atmosphere. Without the break or the second part of speech, ‘the girl doesn’t belong to anybody’, this would be an exciting phrase for Eliza to hear as it shows her being independent. This is hastily closed as an option by Higgins who decides to quickly say ‘is no use to anybody but me’. Not only do Miss Havisham and Higgins have the desire to manipulate due to enjoyment and hatred but they also believe there is only one route to happiness, hence their reasoning for being such demanding and authoritative figures.
This is to become either a Lady or a Gentleman. Higgins attempts to show care for Eliza through her dress however he does this rather lackluster and instead only supports his belief that you must be a Lady or Gentleman. Higgins says ‘This is my return for offering to take you out of the gutter and dress you beautifully and make a lady of you’, which is once again an example of male society ridiculing the lower class, especially female. This is contradicted by Dickens who often portrays his own feelings through characters as in Ladies’ Societies from Sketches by Boz he shows the denial of the power stricken patriarchy from the viewpoint of female society. The section supporting this is, ‘He never does anything to it with his own hands; but he takes great pride in it notwithstanding; and if you are desirous of paying your addresses to the youngest daughter, be sure to be in raptures with every flower and shrub it contains’.Comparisons can also be drawn between Pip and Eliza. Pip has more of a desire to become a gentleman throughout Great Expectations.
It is clear to see Pip’s childhood innocence as he has remained friends with Biddy throughout the novel. At one point Pip says to her ‘“Biddy”, “I want to be a gentleman”’. The demanding language used through the verb ‘want’ shows that Pip has become more of an authoritative figure showing how even when he is being innocent the success of Miss Havisham’s manipulation still shows through. On the other hand, Pygmalion Eliza realises her lack of importance as she becomes a social experiment for Higgins. Knowing that Higgins has no intentions of kindness she turns to Pickering at one point and says ‘he might want them for the next girl you pick up to experiment on’. Eliza begins by speaking directly to Pickering about Higgins but eventually directs her anger at them both. This could be a sign that Eliza is actually beginning to take control. This very much shows that the rich are often ignorant. Those who have been manipulated have had dominant figures attempt to corrupt their innocence. Estella, brought up by Miss Havisham, has been manipulated into not understanding love. An example of this is the way in which Estella treats Pip. In their first meeting, Estella turns to Miss Havisham when asked to play cards with Pip and says, ‘With this boy! Why, he is a common labouring-boy’. The use of exclamatio shows Estella is disgusted when faced with mingling with the lower class. Towards the end of the novel Estella says to Pip ‘I shall not be that. Come! Here is my hand. Do we part on this, you visionary boy – or man?’. There is a contrasting exclamatio which can be compared to when she says ‘With this boy!’.
The exclamatio used supports the idea of an offer of kindness which is very different to the earlier representation, disgust. It is clear to see that Estella has been manipulated into thinking that here language is acceptable due to her social status and position. Estella does however have a feeling of repent for her attitude and misdemeanor towards Pip as she states that, ‘I have not bestowed my tenderness anywhere. I have never had any such thing.’ Romantic vocabulary is shown through the noun ‘tenderness’ which is poetic and suggests there is a semantic field of love. This shows Estella having very little freedom throughout the majority of Great Expectations.
The poem London, from Songs of Experience, supports Estella having a lack of freedom. The poetic style of writing by Dickens in this passage closely relates to the rhythmic poetry of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience. The line, ‘the mind forged manacles I hear’ can be very closely related to the predatory relationship between the controlling Miss Havisham and fragile Estella. In their relationship, Miss Havisham becomes the ‘manacles’ which are in turn forging the mind of Estella by restricting her from seeing the outside world.
An example of Estella having her feelings restricted by Miss Havisham comes when Miss Havisham says ‘Break their hearts!’ and ‘Love her, love her, love her’. The repetition of ‘love her’ emphasises how Miss Havisham is like a ‘manacle’ upon Estella as she is given no freedom of speech in this passage. Pip is also heavily impacted upon by Miss Havisham. When asked by Miss Havisham what he thinks of Estella, Pip compliments her on multiple characteristics but then says, ‘I think she is very insulting’. There is a lack of exclamatio as Pip whispers to Miss Havisham showing his care and kind-heartedness towards others. This contrasts with the attitude of Estella who purposefully ridicules him. Pip is introduced to this harsh treatment of Estella when he hears her say ‘Well! You can break his heart.’ Once again Miss Havisham uses the harshness of the word ‘break’ to further convey her selfish intentions.
This is the reason for Pip’s first taste of higher society being bitter and leaving him ashamed rather than angry which would be justifiable. This shows how Miss Havisham has manipulated Estella into being harsh to men whereas Pip has been brought up by a ‘mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going, foolish, dear fellow’. His change of attitude is forced upon him by Miss Havisham and only becomes apparent as he begins to treat Joe differently. He begins to possess the characteristics of a very snobby, wealthy, elitist. Dennis Butts argues that Dickensian society would suggest that you ‘work within society as decently as possible’. Pip states that communicating with Joe would now be seen as ‘conspiracy with convicts’ which is hypocritical as Pip stole ‘wittles’ from Joe at the very beginning of the novel. Miss Havisham has clearly manipulated him into believing that the lower classes are of less worth than the upper. Higgins shares similarities with the idea of being ‘mind-forged manacles’. Therefore him and Miss Havisham become extremely related. A ‘phonograph’ and ‘laryngoscope’ are the ways in which Higgins exploits the innocent. Higgins’ manipulative ways are seen through the way in which his actions have impacted the life of Eliza. Higgins states that ‘We can throw her back in the gutter’, which is a clear representation of his feelings for those less fortunate than himself.
The use of the word ‘gutter’ suggests that Higgins believes that Eliza does not even have a home but instead simply lives in a small, wet, cramped area. A similarity in connotations with the Chimney Sweeper in Songs of Innocence is the description of the child. The derogatory language, ‘little black thing in the snow’ , matches that of the way in which Higgins treats Eliza. Both of these characters are outcasts from society living in squalor. It is clear to see that Eliza had very little desire in becoming a lady however Higgins’ manipulative ways got the better of her as she eventually decided that she wanted ‘to talk like a lady’.
This only came into her mind when Higgins pretended to care for her in a compassionate way rather than objectifying her. This was an incorrect assumption as Higgins believed that she was ‘incapable of understanding anything’.The manipulatory predators prey on the innocent due to their selfish and apparent kind-hearted actions. Miss Havisham is able to manipulate Pip and Estella through money. Her desire to manipulate comes from her own amusement and passionate vengeance on male society. Miss Havisham’s passionate hatred of men is supported by a passage in sketches by Boz which focuses on the mockery of women from the possessive male society. The crucial sentence in this passage being, ‘The unthinking part of the parishioners laughed at all this’. This is important as it places emphasis on women having a valid reason to disobey and fight against male society. London from Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience contains the line, ‘and blights with plagues the marriage-hearse’ which also emphasises Miss Havisham’s hatred of men. Miss Havisham was left at the altar and this is one of the many reasons her loathing of men has become so strong. The juxtaposition of ‘marriage’ and ‘hearse’ is Blake suggesting life is only necessary so that death can be fulfilled.
This is a very similar to the attitude of life that Dickens has given to Miss Havisham. Miss Havisham never removed her wedding dress and this resulted in her decease still being related to her wedding day. This leaves Miss Havisham with a desire to take revenge and hence her reasoning for manipulating Pip and Estella in such cruel ways. Miss Havisham and Magwitch can also be compared through the different attitudes they have. They have received very different criticisms one of which comes from Dorothy Van Ghent who describes Miss Havisham as a ‘fungus’, suggesting that she grows and lives in unwanted places. In the Providential Aesthetic in Victorian Fiction, Thomas Vargish describes Miss Havisham as being ‘the most clearly culpable’ and also with relevance and comparison to Magwitch he claims that ‘her twisting nature seems more consciously malevolent than his plan for Pip’. Magwitch is not generally seen as a manipulator however in some sense he does manipulate Pip through the kindness of his heart.
Magwitch proves his kind-heartedness when he first informs Pip that he is his benefactor. Pip reacts harshly and disrespectfully to this informative news but is calmed by Magwitch exclaiming, ‘You acted noble, my boy’, ‘Noble, Pip! And I have never forgot it!’. Magwitch refers to Pip as his own child which highlights and portrays how he sees Pip as one of his immediate family members. John O. Jordan suggests that Magwitch is ‘Cain or the wandering Jew’ which portrays him not as an outcast but a legendary figure destined to wander the Earth. Dickens describes Magwitch as a saintly figure at his court case proving John. O. Jordan to be correct with his assumption that he is destined for greatness. This shows Magwitch being an altruistic character as although he may seem to manipulate Piphe does this out of the kindness of his heart. He wants to give someone the life he never had. However Magwitch has managed to turn his life into wealth by exploiting crime. Therefore this results in a corruption of Pip’s innocence as he has been supplied and provided for by a criminal.Higgins on the other hands has the desire to manipulate Eliza Doolittle’s innocence due to his callous nature needing to be supplied by fun and a sense of pride. He manages to achieve this sense of pride through the suffering and ridicule of others less fortunate than himself. Higgins has lots of money. It must be noted, also, that the majority of his money came through a hefty inheritance after his parents passed away. Higgins is dissimilar to Miss Havisham as his intentions are not malicious but more misguided.His actions are not out of compassion but through the desire for his work to prosper. In Act II of Pygmalion Higgins says ‘It’s almost irresistible. She’s so deliciously low—so horribly dirty’. By using the adjective ‘deliciously’, Shaw is attempting to place humour into the mind of not only Higgins but also the audience.
Dickens and Shaw both show signs that when the upper class acted how they should then happiness would prevail. Pip and Estella in Dickens’ more conventional ending will marry, however a close friend of Dickens, Wilkie Collins, suggested that he should use another ending in which Estella remarries, and Pip is left single.
This ending would prove the corruption of innocence of both characters as it proves Miss Havisham to be successful. Estella has not married the one who loves her and Pip has had his heart broken just like Miss Havisham. The resolutions of Miss Havisham and Magwitch are interesting. Magwitch is given the chance to explain a lot to Pip before his death and becomes a manipulator who has been given the chance to speak. Pip clearly wants repentance given to Magwitch as he says ‘“O Lord, be merciful to him a sinner’” as he is lying on his deathbed. Pip does also seem to forgive Miss Havisham who is given a much harsher end in chapter 49 as she is killed in a fire in her own home. This shows how the selfless acts of Abel Magwitch have clearly been recognised by the author and although he is a criminal he is given pity.
Miss Havisham on the other hand is corrupted by her own wealth and suffers a horrible fate. Pip, although originally corrupted by Miss Havisham, realises that being a gentleman is not about being pompous and inconsiderate but being caring and generous to those of a lesser status than yourself. Eliza, too, is not corrupted as she says to Higgins ‘what I did was not for the dresses and the taxis: I did it because we were pleasant together and I come-came-to care for you;’. Estella’s innocence on the other hand, has been manipulated by Miss Havisham as she has no love for Pip.In conclusion the corruption of innocence is portrayed by Dickens, Shaw and Blake in many different ways. The language of Miss Havisham and Higgins shows their manipulative mindsets and attempts to corrupt those less fortunate than themselves. Estella, Eliza and Pip are persuaded into taking a route suitable for the predators, in other words the manipulatory characters. This results in ingratitude towards those who care which is proven in the relationship between Pip and Joe Gargery. Higgins shows clear signs of remorse towards the end of the play.
The resolution of his character shows that he has adopted strong emotional connections to Eliza and wishes to fulfill her desire. This however cannot result in the dismissal of his poor and harsh attitude towards her throughout the majority of the play. When examining the time period of these three authors it is clear to see the social gap narrowing as time goes on, however the innocent children who are exploited throughout does not change. This shows how even with a reduction in social division the corruption of innocence will still be present due to the upper class elitists who find joy, excitement and self-satisfaction in mistreating and manipulating the young and feeble.
The Portrayal of Victorian Society and Its Values
In Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Shaw attacks the relations between Victorian era classes by exposing their wretched treatment of the lower class, as seen in the flower girl, by the higher classes, upper and middle, iconified in Higgins and Mrs. Pearce, respectively. These characters’ condescension towards Eliza, exhibited by Higgins’ objectification and Mrs. Pearce’s rejection, reflect their negative, biased, and condescending feelings towards Eliza, and thus, the lower class. Shaw critiques this by juxtaposing these ideals against Eliza’s claim that she is just like any other gentlewoman of the upper class and deserves treatment as such, voicing Shaw’s opinion that these prejudices against the poor are unfounded and persuading the audience to feel the same.
At the beginning of the scene, Shaw features a conversation between Higgins and Pearce about Eliza, the flower girl. Pearce tells Higgins that a young woman, Eliza, wants to speak with him, but she calls the girl “common”, “queer”, and her accent, “dreadful.” Even though Mrs. Pearce lets Eliza in, there was obvious reluctance in doing so. Pearce’s prejudiced jibes at Eliza, specifically about her appearance and wealth, exemplify the condescension towards the lower class through their negative connotations. On the other hand, Mrs. Pearce’s use of the word dreadful could also have been meant to describe Pearce’s own inability to interpret what Eliza was saying, considering the stark difference in dialect of the two. Pearce later goes on to doubt Eliza’s financial standing by considering her, “a foolish, ignorant girl” for considering herself able to “afford to pay Mr. Higgins.” Shaw portrays Pearce in this light in order to urge the audience, who most likely have similar predispositions as Pearce, to abandon such prejudices and judge a person based on their qualities, not class.
Higgins, after Pearce leaves, furthers the degradation of Eliza before she even enters the scene, by completely objectifying her. Rather than seeing her as a person with thoughts and feelings, Higgins sees her as a tool to create another of his phonetic records, something to turn on “as often as you like.” Higgins does not see Eliza as an equal. Her class makes her so “low” that she is not even considered an individual but an object. Eliza is considered undesirable, and thus, should not be there. However, one could argue that Higgins is pressured by society to participate in the common practice of verbal invective against the lower class. He mostly likely knows no other way to interact with the lower class than this cruel one which has been modeled for him since birth. Thus, one could see Higgins actions as not the fault of himself, but the fault of societal expectations of the upper class and how these expectations force people to mold to them.
Higgins even goes so far as to say he has enough of the “Lisson Grove lingo”, meaning she is not a unique individual, but can be replaced by any other who speaks similarly, like the interchangeable parts of the Industrial Revolution. Higgins’ disrespect of Eliza is continued once she enters, when he furthers his objectification of her by saying, because she is of no use, she should be turned away. Higgins eventually goes so far as to call Eliza “baggage.” This disregard of Eliza and treatment iconifies the upper class disregard of the impoverished, even to the point of complete objectification of the class, that was so prevalent in Victorian Era society. Through further observation, Shaw uses Higgins as an attempt to show the cruelty of these practices in order to have the audience sympathize with the poor Eliza and encourage them, in turn, to sympathize with the poor and not merely objectify or ignore them.
Eliza, once on stage, voices her opinion, in effect, Shaw’s opinion, on their treatment, Pearce’s and Higgins’, of her. She quite feistily states she will pay for her lessons, foiling the stereotype of the lower class always looking for a handout. She wishes for them to treat her like a lady, which she is, but everyone seems incredulous to the idea, reflecting the upper class view of lower classes being crude and uncultured. However, Eliza firmly states that she is “like any lady.” Eliza is reflecting the idea that class does not reflect a person’s character and should not. She voices the idea of Shaw that all are equal, no matter their class or creed. Shaw is attempting to persuade the readers to side with Eliza and believe the epithet that all deserve to be treated as are the upper class.
On the other hand, it is just as terrible of Eliza to be so quick to judge Higgins at the end of the passage, when she accuses him of being drunk. This accusation seems unfounded, and poses the idea that even the lower class, again exemplified through Eliza was also prejudiced. This may be Shaw continuing his attack of prejudices and stereotypes, believing that no one should have them, not even the lower class whom most prejudices are aimed towards. Eliza could also be a representation of the contradictions of the Victorian era. She in a way, contradicts herself, by wanting to be treated like an upper class woman, yet she is prejudiced of the upper class. This reflects the how many in the Victorian era, like today, held contradictory beliefs. This includes the idea of pitying the poor, but blaming them for their poverty and despite high intolerance for crime, many were involved in criminal activities, such as prostitution and domestic abuse. Shaw is critiquing the absurdity of these positions.
Shaw uses the objectification of Higgins, the condescension of Pearce, and the assertions of Eliza to communicate an important message to his readers that the society in which they live, Victorian society with its social hierarchies and prejudices is wrong and should be dismantled. He persuades the audience to do this by encouraging sympathy for Eliza and attacking both Higgins’ and Pearce’s treatment of her. Shaw wants the audience to reform themselves and judge people based on attributes, not class, a very egalitarian point of view.
Pygmalion Vs. My Fair Lady
Comparing Pygmalion to My Fair Lady
Numerous times a piece of literature is changed into a movie or musical it s plot and or theme has been changed to suit the director s thought of what would appeal to the public. One such example is Bernard Shaw s play Pygmalion. In this play Shaw s purpose and ideas were horribly misconstrued to the point at which he was forced to write an Epilogue to try to reconcile the injustice done to his masterpiece. In the Epilogue he bluntly expressed his points and purposes so that the ignorant public could no longer discount Shaw s theme of the play and change it in to a happy ending love story. Shaw s outrage was set off by the director s construction of characters and dialogue. Character s roles were strengthened and belittled according to the director s purpose. This was accomplished by added scenes, songs and changed dialogue accompanied with omitted scenes and minimizing other characters roles. One such character s role that was altered and changed from Shaw s entire purpose was Henry Higgins. The two main things that were altered in Henry Higgins character were his outlook on life and his profession accompanied closely by his relationship with Eliza.
Higgins outlook on life and profession and over all character was enhanced and did little to change the over all-purpose of Shaw. But nonetheless in multiple and added and omitted scenes accompanied by songs explaining his thought process strengthened and changed his character. One such scene was on the street corner when Higgins told the crowd their origin and dialect. This was emphasized to show Higgins profession and abilities. Also a dialogue is added to voice Higgins extremist opinion on poor grammar and speech. It is best said in the quote, not found in the play, A woman who utters such disgusting and depressing noises has no right to be anywhere, no right to live. Remember that you re a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech. That your nature language is the language of Shakespeare, Milton, and the Bible, don t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon. This quote is followed by the song Why can t the English teach their children to speak. These combined immensely strengthen Higgins views and opinion on language. Later Higgins voices like views on women with Colonel Pickering through the song Why can t a woman be more like a man. In the play Higgins simply states he is a confirmed old bachelor but in the movie it is over dramatized in the song. The best contribution that the movie bestows upon the play is in the dialogue where he expresses his purpose for taking on the bet. He says what could be more gratifying than changing a person s class and character solely through speech. This is and excellent line which captures Higgins purpose perfectly.
The other aspect that was greatly changed which so enraged Shaw was Higgins and Eliza s relationship. The move transfers from a condescending relationship to a love that will endure. It adds the scenes and events of Eliza s teachings, which the play passed by shortly. This is where we see the change in their relationship. In the beginning of the drills Higgins makes Eliza say a phrase every night and he says, You ll get much farther with the Lord if you learn not to offend his ears. Then later he is drilling her with marbles and she swallows one and he assures her he has plenty more. This is the character that Shaw would of approved of. For the first time one late night Higgins affirms Eliza and converses with her civilly and tells her she will succeed. At this moment Eliza can speak clearly and perform all the drills flawlessly. And it was triggered by Higgins affirmation. Here Eliza is shown admiring the Professor and has a song in which her feelings are expressed. Then Higgins expresses that he wants to reward Eliza for her accomplishments. Later scenes show Higgins determination and stubbornness hand in hand with his confidence in Eliza. Many different things fantasize their relationship such as Higgins worry for Eliza at the ball. At the beginning of the movie he wouldn t even have thought twice about her welfare. In the last song after Higgins was rebuked and discounted by Eliza he expresses that he loves and misses Eliza and doesn t know what he will do without her. Then at the last scene where Eliza returns and Higgins is overjoyed to see her but contains himself with the line, Where the devil are my slippers? This stripped Eliza of her independence and thus enraged Shaw.
Though the musical strengthened some aspects of the play, it mutilated Shaw s purpose of making Eliza independent. In the book at the end Eliza is the alpha person and teacher while Higgins is the outcast and rebuked by society. But in the musical Eliza and Higgins are falling in love and Eliza will fetch his slippers. Through this belittled characterization of Eliza, Higgins character is strengthened. This is just another way of the many that Higgins character was strengthened. The two points mentioned above are the main changes in the conversion from the play to the musical adaptation. You ask a person if he has read a certain book; or a student watches a movie or musical; in substitution for the literature and they think that are the same. But as displayed in this essay the original literature and the movie or misical can be totally different. This will always be true because not all literature will be appealing to the public or satisfy its needs and wants for perfect endings and tranquility. Thus you can never judge a book by the movie.