Essay on Pygmalion

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Samantha Belew
Professor Marc Muneal
English 1102
27 September 2011

Pygmalion is a play written by George Bernard Shaw illustrating the effect language has on each character, from how others perceive them to what they are capable or incapable of doing in their lives. In society during that time, just as now, your accent and the way you speak can tell a great deal about your background and where you are from. But more so in the story of Pygmalion does the accent and the way they speak, grammatically speaking, highlight to which status and social class they belong as well. Each character has their own status set and roles which accompany them giving a well rounded view of how language use can effect an individual. The majority of the main characters such as Mr. Higgins, Mr. Pickering, and Mrs. Pearce are of the wealthy and more civilized social class. However Eliza Dolittle is not, she is very poor and because of this she speaks with very poor English. Throughout the play Shaw illustrates languages effects on these characters in numerous ways examples being; specifically how the characters speak to one another, how each character speaks and how the author constructs the words used, and finally the characters and their breaking of these social class norms. Living in a society that places a great deal of emphasis on which social class an individual belongs, those who are not sophisticated and speak with proper grammar were looked down upon and often treated with a lack of respect. Being as Mr. Higgins and Mrs. Pearce are of the upper class the words used during conversations had with Ms. Doolittle are generally used to speak down to her. After Mr. Higgins hands Ms. Doolittle a handkerchief to dry her eyes, Mrs. Pearce makes the comment, “It's no use talking to her like that, Mr. Higgins: she doesn't understand you, Besides, you're quite wrong: she doesn't do it that way at all [she takes the handkerchief]”(Shaw 20). Because Ms. Dolittle is poor and from such...
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