Pygmalion and the Awakening

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Alissa Christine Roush
December 15, 2010
Ms. Allen Hour 1
Pygmalion and The Awakening

Metamorphosis is a classic staple in story-telling, perhaps the most popular and effective. While accompanied by several other themes, we see Eliza Doolittle of Pygmalion and Edna Pontellier of The Awakening transform dramatically. Comparably, these women are quite opposite in almost every way but their stories posses many parallel threads. Bernard Shaw and Kate Chopin affectively apply the struggle for change, independence, and self-discovery in these two works. Eliza Doolittle’s transformation is only external to begin with. She starts as an uncultivated ragamuffin selling flowers on the curb. Her ill-formed speech and accent – “Ahyee, bəyee, cəyee, dəyee” ~ Eliza, Act II - attract the speculation of Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics. As a bet with Colonel Pickering, a fellow expert in the field of phonetics, he takes the challenge of molding Eliza into a well mannered lady fit for nobility. With much sass and often strong reluctance, her accent is corrected and her appearance is made elegant. She proves herself at the ambassador’s party where her beauty and poise makes her the talk of the evening, thus winning the bet on Higgins’ behalf. That night, the real change in Miss Doolittle is revealed. She finally defends her dignity against Professor Higgins’ insensitivity and sets herself apart as a worthy and independent woman. “By George, Eliza, I said I’d make a woman of you…you were like a milestone around my neck. Now you’re a tower of strength…” ~ Higgins, Act IV. Although smart-mouthed Eliza doesn’t much value conformity or social status, her new experiences help her gain self-respect. She comes to see that in truth she is neither a lowly flower girl nor a pampered duchess. Edna’s shift, on the other hand, originated internally. While staying at her summer cottage with her husband and two small children, Edna Pontellier became close friends with...
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