Social Class in Pygmalion

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“Pygmalion”, by George Bernard Shaw, is a modern metamorphosis of the story Pygmalion, legendary sculptor and king of Cyprus, who fell in love with his own statue of Aphrodite. At his prayer, Aphrodite brought the statue to life as Galatea. In his own play, Shaw reveals a twist in the Greek myth, where by he transformers a flower girl into a duchess through the power of speech. The author uses this mythology to portray aspects of Victorian England common social class classification. The author uses speech and choice of word, along with other features to shed light on the social distinctions. Language and social class interchanged widely in Shaw’s play “Pygmalion” drawing along with it, characteristics of characters’ as well as major themes.

The interchange between language and social class can be symbolized through Shaw’s characters. The author uses different characters to portray different aspects of class divisions. England’s social class, as a major theme, was clarified greatly through the art of speech. Throughout most of civilization, people have been divided in classes. There is the rich and powerful, the middle class who are less powerful but nonetheless respected, and the incapable poor. The author cleverly bestows his characters’ their own identity, by giving each a language and speech that suits their bubble of reality: their own social class. Shaw depicts members of all social classes, the lowest being Liza, known for her London’s working class cockney accent. Furthermore, the middle class (Doolittle after his inheritance) to the genteel poor (the Eynsford Hills) to the upper class (Pickering and the Higgins’ family). Those who were classified in the upper class, where known for their proper articulation for the English language. Even though the articulation was proper, it did not need to reach perfection. The author reflects this through Mr. Higgins, who was rich and well articulated, but his manners when speaking where not genteel as it was...
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