The Process of Personally Designing a Scene of Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw
My group and I decided to do our project on Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw. I chose to be the scene designer. This paper will discuss my process in designing the scene for the Act (scene) we are focusing on. My group decided to focus on Act 4 of Pygmalion because there were several other scene changes in the play and because this act is one of the main points of the play. I will also be discussing what I found in my research for Pygmalion. Now can you guess what the first thing I did for this project?
The very first thing I did for Pygmalion was read the script! (Joe always in class made sure this was the first step). When I finished reading the play, I then drew a very quick rough sketch of what came into my mind when I read Act 4. Then I met with my group and we decided that the main theme or spine of the play was about how people were using each other. Eliza was using Higgins to get up in the world and Higgins and Pickering were using her to win a bet. It was also decided that another theme of the play was about how we view people initially is how we keep on seeing them. Higgins saw Eliza as a flower girl, so that’s what she always will be to him. Pickering on the other hand saw her a lady, so she will always be a lady to him. With this in mind, I began to do some research to improve my design for Pygmalion.
After discovering what the spine was of the play, I looked for elements that would help me tie the design in with the spine. Now Pygmalion was written in 1913. This is also that same period the play takes place in. It takes place in London, England. During 1913 London was a time of Industrial Revolution. There was also the women’s suffrage movement, which the author Bernard Shaw may have implanted and shown how women were treated back then. The Industrial Revolution bought wealth and cars to much of England. This caused a class system of the rich and the poor, which Shaw may also have been making a statement about. So I decided to implement high class items into my scene design. Also, in the play, when Higgins enters the room, he throws his coat on the newspaper stand without a care, while Pickering hesitates when he does it. This can show that Higgins doesn’t care when he uses Eliza, and Pickering at least cares a little bit. So my design will dress up the newspaper stand and have more of a showcase to show how they are using it for chores, just like they did Eliza. I then defined what the design demands or (what the play specially calls for) of Pygmalion were. I then researched pattern design styles of chairs of the time period because in the play Higgins and Pickering are sitting on chairs and talking. Eliza is also sitting on a piano bench. There is also mention of a mantle piece. So these items I definitely needed. These were what the design demands were for the scene. I then drew a second better design from these ideas. Then I gathered pictures from the time period of the items I needed to make a third and final design. I then transferred that design to a model of what my scene will look like. This is how I designed the scene for Act 4 of Pygmalion. I implemented items from the time period and items that went with the spine of the play.
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.
A Comparison of the First Scenes in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion and Alan Jay Lerner’s My Fair Lady
Comparing Pygmalion & My Fair Lady—Act 1, Scene 1
Because the focus of musicals is more concerned with song and dance and less concerned with dialogue than straight plays are, it stands to reason that musicals seek to simplify the plot in order to make enough room for the numbers, where straight plays are free to elaborate and experiment with character choices through dialogue rather than music. The comparison between the two is quite clear in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion and its musical adaptation, My Fair Lady, by Alan Jay Lerner—specifically, the first scene of each.
Pygmalion begins with a rainy day in London, just as My Fair Lady does, but its initial dialogue is lengthy and verbose, taking until the end of the second page of the play text to even introduce the female protagonist. “I’m getting chilled to the bone,” the daughter complains to her mother. “What can Freddy be doing all this time? He’s been gone twenty minutes” (Shaw 3). the mother and a bystander each have an extended discussion about the weather and the difficulty of finding a cab for two whole pages before the flower girl even enters. And when she does, she smacks into freddy but despite her fluster, her line takes its time: “Nah then, Freddy: look why’ y’ gowin, deah” (4). The lack of music in the straight play version allows for longer lines such as this.
In My Fair Lady, the pace is quickened dramatically—no pun intended. Rather than an extended discussion about the weather between the mother and daughter, the first one to speak is in fact eliza, and it’s regarding hers and freddy’s collision. “Aaaooowww!” she cries (Lerner 106). This much-simplified version of the dialogue almost seems rushed to a comical degree, but it serves an important purpose in the musical; where in a straight play the plot and conflict would be delivered solely through dialogue, the majority of those things in a musical is delivered through song. Therefore, the less revealed in lines of conversation and more revealed in the musical numbers is actually beneficial and is made with intention.
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.
Pygmalion’s Art and Co-relation To Nature
Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a work about transience, and perhaps no two things in the natural world are more fleeting than life and beauty. Artists aim to preserve these two qualities in their work by simultaneously imitating the natural world to give the appearance of life to static creations and also looking to transcend and outlast nature’s beauty. Within the Metamorphoses, Ovid tells the story of such an artist, Pygmalion, whose statue blurs the boundaries between art and nature. The tale of Pygmalion demonstrates that the artist, paradoxically both an imitator and an innovator, assumes the unique role of mediator between nature and art.
Initially, Pygmalion’s attitude implies he has created the perfect woman, thereby rejecting nature’s imperfection. After witnessing the Propoetides, the first women to become prostitutes, and whose shamelessness hardens them into stone, he chooses to “have no woman in his bed” (Metamorphoses X:247). His vow subtly accuses nature of blundering when it bestows vices “only too often” on real females, forcing Pygmalion to find a better alternative (10:246). After witnessing prostitutes turning into stone, Pygmalion performs the reverse: he sculpts an ivory statue to be his perfectly chaste companion. This statue is also described as more beautiful than any human “could” be, implying nature is actually incapable of ever equaling the artist’s skill (X:252). Essentially, Pygmalion creates a superior work of art because he possesses the artist’s imagination. In accordance with his own ideas, the artist can specify exactly how beautiful and virtuous to make his masterpiece, whereas nature worships reality and is confined by the physically and organically possible.
At the same time, the passage paradoxically focuses on art’s imitation of nature, something supposedly inferior to it. Ovid’s observation, “The best art, they say, / Is that which conceals art,” summarizes the concept of mimesis, by which art attempts to mimic reality (X:254-55). By definition, the understudy for his statue was a natural woman, and the statue’s remarkably “almost lifelike”—or natural—qualities captivate him (X:252).
In fact, Pygmalion’s one complaint is that his art is not alive. This makes sense, as Pygmalion is torn between the two identities of artist and lover. He has fallen in love with his artwork, but he is also a man and hungry for human contact. In an attempt to simulate courtship, he covers the statue’s naked body with dresses, brings it with flowers, shells, pet birds, and other baubles, and fawns over it (X:258-68). These scenes to any onlooker would appear the acts of a lunatic. Yet Pygmalion’s questioning arguably betrays a willful denial: “…Was it ivory only? / No, it could not be ivory” (X:258). He treats the statue like a living being that could respond to his advances “as if she felt it” (X:267), and even believes “his fingers almost leave / An imprint on her limbs” (X:261-62). The tentative uses of “as if” and “almost” again mirror his self-deception. He knows this is not a living girl, that she will never reciprocate his love, but dotes on her anyway. During the festival of Venus, Pygmalion ultimately reveals his desire for a living woman when he asks the gods to make him a wife “like his ivory girl” (X:277). When he admits a living girl would satisfy him more than his statue, Pygmalion at last discovers the tension between being an artist and being human.
At this point, Pygmalion comes full circle. He finds nature cannot create a perfect woman, but neither can he, the artist alone, achieve the extra dimension of life. In order for nature and art to fulfill each other’s potential, they must join hands. The artist’s power lies partly in imitating nature, but also in being able to improve upon it with his own imagination, which transcends the beauty and chastity found in reality. Meanwhile, nature’s unique gift is that of giving life. The following scene, in which the statue is transformed into a living being, illustrates the combined power of nature and artistry. Significantly, the repetitious structure of Pygmalion’s action and the statue’s reaction demonstrates Pygmalion is a direct participant: “And lay beside her, / And kissed her, and she seemed to glow, and kissed her, / And stroked her breast, and felt the ivory soften” (X:281-84). The sculpture imagery depicts Pygmalion creating alongside natural forces, together morphing the simulacrum into a pulsing being.
Overall, the transformation of art into the realm of the living retains the beauty and chastity of his sculpture. He can hardly believe she is a real woman now (“It is a body!”), proving that she has not changed in appearance and is still preternaturally beautiful (X:257). She even blushes, and, in a vision of starry-eyed innocence, turns her virgin gaze on “lover and heaven” (X:263). This near-perfect transfer of art’s virtues into reality affirms the artist’s ability to comment on how nature ought to be. The natural world also provides the setting for artwork to fulfill not only artists, but also human beings. Together, art and nature contribute something more meaningful than their independent efforts.
In the end, Pygmalion gained a human companion in addition to his ideal creation. His resolution presents one theory of appreciating art, namely that a piece is meant to imitate and also expand the possibilities of the world; but as a social being a person can never find existential satisfaction in artwork alone. That said, merging art with life still has its drawback of mortality. Pygmalion’s living woman will not survive forever, as the ivory statue would have. Therefore, although nature and art fashion a fine woman, they still cannot achieve a permanent, perfect product. But this of course is the central idea of Metamorphoses. People and things always become something else, everything is in the process of becoming, and nothing stands on its own. Using this story and many more, Ovid gradually unveils his fundamental philosophy that life and beauty are transient.
Ovid. Metamorphoses. Trans. Rolfe Humphries. New York: Indiana UP, 1955. Print.
Evaluation of Humor As Portrayed In Pygmalion and My Fair Lady
Is an element of comedy in the sThere tory Pygmalion and in the film My Fair Lady. In the play and the film alike, a woman of the streets named Liza Doolittle is transformed from a dirty low-life from the streets to a respectable high-class woman in only six months by two wealthy gentlemen named Higgins and Pickering. Pickering challenged Higgings to make this young girl a respectable lady and this becomes the object of the story, which is filled with several comical scenes dealing with the changing lifestyle of Liza Doolittle.
There are several humorous situations found in this play. Liza Doolittles attitude is humorous in itself. She takes everything that Higgins and Pickering say to her seriously, even if they are only joking, for instance when Higgins referred to her as baggage and asked his colleague Pickering if they should have her sit down or toss her out the window. Liza responded with her patented Ah-ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-oo-oo!!! and quickly tried to get away from Higgins. There are several scenes like this throughout the play which I thought were all funny. Another scene I thought was humorous was the bath scene. Liza Doolittle, being a lady of the streets, had never taken a real bath before, and when she was asked to take her clothes off and get into the tub, she through another fit and made a huge fool out of herself. Even though this film and play were both made a long time ago, there are still parts of it that can still be considered funny by todays standards. Just imagining a bet between two distinguished gentlemen on whether or not they can change a woman from the streets into a woman of high class can be funny. A movie that this can be compared to today is Pretty Woman starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. In this movie, Richard falls in love with Julia and changes her from a woman of the streets to a decent and beautifulwoman, much like Higgins fell in love with Liza Doolittle and changed her.
Although the movie My Fair Lady made it big back in the past, I dont thinkthat it would be very successful at the box office if it were to come out todaybecause everyones view of comedy has drastically changed from what it used to be. Comedy has lost its innocence, and this movie was too innocent to make it today. Movies such as American Pie and Big Daddy are what audiences want to see today because they portray people with serious problems in a funny way, and they dont hide anything in doing it, they makeaudiences laugh in a new way.
In conclusion, I think that the play Pygmalion and the film My Fair Lady both have elements of comedy. There are some funny moments throughout both the play and the movie that would still be considered somewhat humorous, but I dont think that the movie would succeed in the box office today.