Analysis Of George Bernard Shaw 's Pygmalion

2617 Words May 17th, 2015 11 Pages
Social standing is central to the plot of George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion”. The portrayal of class identity in Shaw’s play appears to be a criticism of the distinctions between high society and the poorer classes in Victorian England. Shaw’s aim was to portray how the upper-crust of Victorian society viewed the lower classes, as evidenced by Higgins’ treatment of Eliza upon her first visit to his laboratory; Higgins treats her as though she is too stupid to understand that he is insulting her. The assumption is that the wealthy view the lower classes as being somehow lesser. So what is it that Shaw is trying to impart upon the reader? Shaw appeared to show open disdain not just for the upper class of society but for society in general, and Pygmalion may be interpreted as an open criticism of class distinctions in Victorian England.
Class distinctions are made abundantly clear in Shaw’s “Pygmalion.” Eliza is representative of Shaw’s view of the English working class of the day: Crude, crass, and seemingly unintelligent yet worthy of pity. Equal criticism is leveled at the upper classes, who pass judgement upon the poor precipitated by their appearance and mannerisms. Higgins and Pickering’s attitude towards Eliza is one of derision, stemming from their difference in social status. For instance, Higgins’ open mockery of Eliza’s speech: “You see this creature with her kerbstone English: the English that will keep her in the gutter to the end of her days.” (Shaw.…
Open Document