"Pygmalion" By George Bernard Shaw And "Tess Of The D'urbervilles" By Thomas Hardy.

1355 words - 5 pages

Some story lines overwhelm their heroes or heroines with good luck. Sometimes characters experience misfortune at the beginning of their story but later emerge with their situations resolved. Other times, however, the entire story line works almost completely against the hero or heroine's will until the end. Both Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy and Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw feature a female character who experiences several turns of unfortunate events. Tess Durbeyfield and Eliza Doolittle are widely similar, mainly because they both suffer directly from their societies' fixed mentalities towards women. Eliza suffers from her society's inability to accept her as both a working woman and a proper lady, and Tess is forced to deal with her society's inability to accept her as a fallen woman. Tess, however, suffers significantly more in her circumstances from the pressure of the society she lives in, for her situation is highly unalterable. Eliza's circumstances offer her more opportunities and freedom to change her situation and its outcome.The most general similarity between the situations of Tess Durbeyfield and Eliza Doolittle is the direct demonstration of the sexual double standard in both of their societies. As a lower class woman, Eliza's relationship with Henry Higgins shows the generally accepted behavior of upper class people towards the specific lower and upper classes during that time. Although Henry Higgins's behavior is exaggerated, it points out a vital element in the mentality of the society. Higgins is resentful and condescending towards Eliza for several reasons. One of the main reasons is that she is a woman. The idea that men have more important priorities and are capable of doing more oppresses Eliza and her ability to get along equally with Higgins. This is because Higgins amplifies the idea of women's inferiority when he interacts with Eliza. Also, Higgins displays his belief in the need for Eliza to act, speak, and think properly, according to the society's definition of "proper." Likewise, Tess's society works against her circumstances, tying in the sexual double standard. Tess's status of "fallen" is specifically labeled for a woman; whatever action committed against her is viewed not as the fault of the man who committed it, but as Tess's fault. The justification for disrespecting and degrading Tess may be as simple as her label of "fallen," with no explanation or no further justification to counter that.The similar oppression of Eliza and Tess is accordingly brought on by the inferiority of their class levels. Both Tess and Eliza experience the misfortune that accompanies belonging to a lower class. With Eliza, Henry Higgins sees it as perfectly justifiable to treat her as less than human in many ways. He speaks to her rudely and constantly makes insulting remarks. Higgins views her lower status as an excuse to speak out bluntly to a point where it is only acceptable when speaking to Eliza. Alec...

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