Play Analysis: Pygmalion

Topics: Social class, Middle class, Working class Pages: 3 (1220 words) Published: November 17, 2013
“Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw, is a play set in the Victorian Era. In this period of time, social classes were considered to be fixed and so no one moved between classes. In George Bernard Shaw’s play, this idea of fixed social classes is challenged through the use of dramatic conventions. “Pygmalion” follows the life of Eliza Doolittle as Professor Henry Higgins plans to transform her from a flower girl to a lady in a bet to pass her off as a duchess. In changing her appearance and speech, the bet is won, but as a result Eliza loses her position in society, her identity, and a sense of belonging. Shaw’s purpose in writing this play was to allow audiences to consider the possibility and successfulness of moving between social classes, as well as their own identities. The playwright also encourages audiences to consider appearance in relation to society and the importance of language to class. The dramatic convention of dialogue is used to convey Shaw’s purpose that is positioning audiences to consider whether moving between social classes is possible and can be problematic. Through the dialect of Eliza Doolittle the playwright presents the issues faced when social classes are bridged. Eliza converses with Professor Higgins after he has transformed her into a lady, “I sold flowers. I didn’t sell myself. Now you’ve made a lady of me I’m not fit to sell anything else.” (Act 4) This extract from the script proves that moving between social classes is possible but is far from successful. Higgins manages to transform Eliza Doolittle from a flower girl to a lady, but as a result of this Eliza loses her old life and possibly the new life that has been introduced to her. Now stuck between lower class and upper-middle class, Miss Doolittle is not allowed to sell flowers, losing her source of income and what she saw as a career. After the wager is won Eliza questions Higgins and her life, “What am I fit for? What have you left me fit for? Where am I to go? What am I to...
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