Caterpillar to Butterfly
The play Pygmalion starts with Bernard Shaw showing a common “poor girl” (1,12) Eliza in poverty selling flowers on the streets in England. Eliza is shown standing up to a man who is taking detailed notes on her vocabulary. This is significant as you see her fierce personality right at the beginning of the play. Throughout the play, you watch Eliza Doolittle the flower girl learning how to speak and transform into a lady according to the standards of Professor Higgins her teacher. Colonel Pickering, pays for her lessons and oversees the experiment to see if Professor Higgins can take a common gutter snipe and transform her into a lady. Although, at the end of the play Eliza’s appearance and voice seem to reveal that she has become a lady with all the luxury materials and new social status, she still shows that Professor Higgins has not changed her fierce internal strength, and independence. One may have sympathy for Eliza after she was insulted by Professor Higgins a man she has just met when he says “you squashed cabbage leaf...you incarnate insult to the English language”(1,18). Eliza lives in a small room in angels court, on Drury lane beside an oil shop. Her room consists of “only some visible luxuries: the rest is the irreducible minimum of poverty’s needs” (1,21) In her room she has a birdcage which could symbolize how she is trapped in poverty, and strives for freedom. Also, Eliza has a gas lamp that she has put a penny in the slot but doesn’t push it down as she will loose the penny. The gas lamp shows how deep in poverty Eliza is, or how she is trying to save her money by living on less. She is possibly using the money for more important needs like how she “Wants to be a lady in a flower shop stead of selling at the corner” (2,26) which she later tells Professor Higgins. In act two, Eliza goes to Professor Higgins to have lessons, she is dressed in her best clothes, she offers to pay for her lessons and even calls herself a...
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