Pretty Woman vs. Pygmalion Essay

1024 Words Aug 8th, 2012 5 Pages
In the history of literary texts, many original tales have often been appropriated decades later with a different message or purpose in the mind of the creator. The ideas, values and plotline are redefined in a new context to appeal to a different audience. Like all texts, both Pygmalion, written by George Bernard Shaw and Pretty Woman, directed by Gary Marshall, reflect values, beliefs and attitudes of the time, nearly 80 years apart.

The use of different forms highlights the different intended audiences. On one hand, Pygmalion was a play intended for the upper echelons on society. Pretty woman was created with the intention to blockbuster so it was consequently made into a film intended for the middle class.
In both texts we see
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To overcome the social barriers, both girls receive additional lessons on social manners from Barney and Pickering.

As the two texts are set in different eras, the leading male characters have different reactions to the girls’ attempts to refrain from submitting to the stereotypes. Edward is a lot more emotional and sensitive as the 1990’s audience would not bear abusive behavior like Higgins. He reacts to the defiance of the stereotype warmly saying “very few people surprise me” after he discovers Vivienne was hiding a roll of tooth floss. On the contrary, Higgins brutally tells her to “cease this detestable boohooing instantly”. This further exemplifies the different message given in the contemporary version.

Both protagonists ascend through social classes with the help of two men with ability to access higher classes via profession and wealth. The film establishes Edward’s social superiority by depicting him above all the guests at his party utilising a Bird’s Eye View, supporting this, his ex-girlfriend admonishes him “you think I’m at your beck and call”. However, he can see below him but he cannot break out of the glass window. Further supporting his inability, he becomes lost in Hollywood requiring directions from Vivienne. The cross cutting of Vivienne and Edward foreshadows and sets up their romance. In direct contrast, Higgins did not need saving at the slightest, happily being a “confirmed old bachelor” as he believes that
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