The Suppression of Women in Pygmalion

Topics: Victorian era, Woman, 23rd century Pages: 4 (1339 words) Published: December 11, 2006
Twentieth century Britain is dubbed the Victorian era in which the woman is just the female of humanity, and that they have certain things to do in society. It is socially accepted that women care solely for the children, the house, the cooking and the cleaning and the men are the breadwinners and disciplinarians. Writer, Bernard Shaw, who was "dedicated to tearing down what he saw as the oppressive veil of Victorian ideal of womanhood-that women are self-sacrificing, pure, noble, and passive" (2215). Damrosch, Dettmar, and Wicke the editors of The Longman Anthology of British Literature argue that Shaw designates the excitement, vigor, and advancement behind women who have exploded out the confines of domestic duty and into the work force of Britain by sidelining them with the ‘newest ideas'. However, Shaw is suppressing women; the main character in Pygmalion is Eliza Doolittle is a poor, young woman and Professor Higgins is influenced by a bet to turn into a fine young woman by teaching her to speak correctly. Although Higgins is giving her the chance to learn how to speak like a lady, it is not through grammar one moves through social classes but by connections and hard work to gain money. By giving Eliza the gift of grammar, Higgins says she could get a job in a flower shop and pursue her dreams from there. However, Higgins is forcing her to pretend to become a typical Victorian lady; one who courts and then marries a gentlemen like Freddy and stays at home conforming to the Victorian ideals of womanhood.

Pygmalion introduces Eliza as a poor flower girl, hurrying for shelter against the rain. While under a music hall awning for shelter, she interacts with a number of people, including Professor Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering. Higgins is able to pin point where every one under the awning was born by the dialect they speak in. He is appalled by the sound of Eliza's speech and says, You see this creature with her kerbstone English: the...
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