Pygmalion Critical Analysis

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Pygmalion Critical Analysis

By | December 2012
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In Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw utilizes his protagonist Eliza to represent not only a gender or social role; but more in particular, how quickly those can all change. Although judged and cast as inferior for her job selling flowers alongside her almost indecipherable language, Eliza is completely transformed into a lady. Yet, interestingly it is not her actions that make her feel lady-like, but it is in how she is treated where she feels the most like a woman. Shaw becomes the “watchdog of society” by poking at the upper class’s prejudices over the lower class. Through Eliza’s change, he proves society wrong. He shows that the lower class does not have holds or limitations. They are not stuck where there are at and in fact, if willing, they can come to reach any potential, even one’s that are greater than those above them. Eliza soon realizes speaking properly, the use of manners, and dressing the role of a duchess are all actually the easy factors in becoming a lady. She tells Mr. Pickering, “it was just like learning to dance in the fashionable way, there was nothing more than that in it.” She goes on to say that her “real education” began when Mr. Pickering acknowledged her as Miss Doolittle, “that was the beginning of self-respect for me.” To Eliza it’s the little things, such as Pickering taking off his boots before he enters the room, things Mr. Higgins would not dare to do while in her presence—a presence of a lady. Eliza continues to make her point by saying, “I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will; but I know I can be a lady to you, because you always treat me as a lady, and always will.” Shaw makes a clear point that audiences then and now should acknowledge. Treating a person with respect, all social classes aside, especially if it is a woman, is everything. And it means everything to that person. That is the real difference at stake between social classes...

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