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Topics: George Bernard Shaw, Social class, My Fair Lady Pages: 41 (11837 words) Published: June 22, 2013
A TEACHER’S GUIDE TO THE SIGNET CLASSICS EDITION OF

G EORG E B E R N A R D S HAW ’S

PYGMALION

By LAURA REIS MAYER
BUNCOMBE COUNTY SCHOOLS, ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA

S E R I E S

E D I T O R S

JEANNE M. MCGLINN, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Asheville and W. GEIGER ELLIS, Ed.D., University of Georgia, Professor Emeritus

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A Teacher’s Guide to the Signet Classics Edition of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion

TABLE OF CONTENTS

An Introduction .......................................................................................3 Synopsis of the Play .................................................................................3 Prereading Activities .................................................................................6 During Reading Activities ......................................................................13 After Reading Activities .........................................................................21 About the Author of this Guide .............................................................29 About the Editors of this Guide .............................................................29 Full List of Free Teacher's Guides...........................................................30 Click on a Classic ..................................................................................31

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A Teacher’s Guide to the Signet Classics Edition of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion

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AN INTRODUCTION
To a generation of students raised on Disney films, George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion is a familiar story: Eliza Doolittle is Cinderella, a beautiful working girl turned princess by fairy godmother Henry Higgins. And indeed, Eliza is surrounded by beautiful ball gowns, horse-drawn carriages, and a handsome young admirer. Yet perhaps it is Pinocchio that is a more accurate comparison. For just as Gepetto creates his puppet and then loses control of his naughty son, so Henry Higgins turns a flower girl into a lady only to discover she has a will of her own. Beyond its fairy tale aspects, Pygmalion is a social commentary on the systems of education and class in Victorian England. And most interesting to Shaw himself is the drama’s treatment of language, its power, and the preconceptions attached to it by society. Today’s teachers are in an excellent position to share the historic, linguistic, and cultural significance of Pygmalion. In a society where American legislators and laymen debate the need to make English the official language, and where musical artists and texting teenagers continue to create dialects of their own, Shaw’s message is clear: each of us is “a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech . . . Our native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and The Bible,” and this gift needs to be appreciated. Shaw’s play provides plenty of opportunity for appreciation, engendering a host of topics for classroom discussion, research, speech, essays, and projects. This guide is designed to assist teachers in planning a unit accessible to readers of various levels and learning styles. Ideas include opportunities for listening, speaking, writing, and creating. Pre-reading activities are provided to prepare students for reading a Victorian play and to challenge students to think about Shaw’s themes. During-reading activities ask students to read more critically. And Post-reading activities encourage students to evaluate the significance of Pygmalion by analyzing Shaw’s style, researching historical...
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