Pygmalion By George Bernard Shaw Essay

1132 words - 5 pages

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw's father, George Carr Shaw, was an alcoholic which
meant not much money was spent on Shaw's education, therefore he was
mainly self-taught, since he was self-taught he never had ideas forced
upon him, this caused him to turn into a strong minded individual who
expressed his opinions. He was a socialist and a critic who believed
strongly in equality. Shaw wrote many plays, which expressed his
opinions, one of the most famous being Pygmalion. Shaw uses Pygmalion
to show the superficial basis of the class system.

Pygmalion is set in London, in the early 1900's when the distinction
between classes was more defined. I believe Shaw choose to set the
play in London because it has the widest range of classes and would
make it easier for him to show how false the class system really is.
There is the queen who is considered to be of the highest class and
people living on the streets who are considered to be of the lowest
class.

Shaw uses Pygmalion to show how false the class system is and how it
is based on superficial ideas. Shaw shows that people can't be put
into categorise when he makes the characters exceed the boundaries of
the groups they have placed in. One of the characters to do this is
Eliza, who exceeds the boundaries of lower class. " I'm a good girl I
am." She shows that she is well mannered, and has more morals than
Higgins. She also shows herself to have a lot of pride and
self-respect.

Through Higgins and Pickering's perceptions of Eliza, we are shown
that the class system is all in the mind of the beholder and how it is
perceived differently in each person. Higgins sees Eliza as lower
class; "I treat a duchess as if she were a flower girl" put Pickering
sees Eliza as an equal, someone of the same class as himself or above
"he'd treat a flower girl as if she were a duchess." In my opinion I
think Shaw is trying to tell us the class system doesn't make the
person, that it's the person that makes the class system.

At the beginning of Pygmalion Shaw uses the dramatic device of
labelling the characters instead of giving their names. "The flower
girl", "the gentleman" "the note taker", by doing this Shaw shows us
how quickly we judge people by what they do and what they look like
and not on what they are. Further on in the play the labelling of the
characters changes, "the flower girl" changes to "Liza", "the
gentleman" to "Pickering" and "the note taker" to "Higgins" by using
first names and surnames we can see where the characters have been
placed with in the class system.

Using detailed stage directions Shaw shows how materialistic things
seem to matter more to the upper-class and how they take them for
granted and how the lower class treasure what they have. "These are
the only visible luxuries"" Shaw shows how Eliza has to live off
necessities and how she can't afford many luxuries and how she
treasure what she has. He shows...

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