Social Class in Pygmalion

1049 Words Jun 14th, 2011 5 Pages
“Pygmalion”, by George Bernard Shaw, is a modern metamorphosis of the story Pygmalion, legendary sculptor and king of Cyprus, who fell in love with his own statue of Aphrodite. At his prayer, Aphrodite brought the statue to life as Galatea. In his own play, Shaw reveals a twist in the Greek myth, where by he transformers a flower girl into a duchess through the power of speech. The author uses this mythology to portray aspects of Victorian England common social class classification. The author uses speech and choice of word, along with other features to shed light on the social distinctions. Language and social class interchanged widely in Shaw’s play “Pygmalion” drawing along with it, characteristics of characters’ as well as major …show more content…
This is to show how appearance plays a major role in indicating ones class. At the beginning of the play, Eliza is described as a filthy common beggar from the way she spoke and dressed, by Higgins. The author uses Higgins to shed light on how the rich perceive the poor through appearance and speech. When Eliza experiences her first proper wash and bathe, she transforms into someone decent enough to be passed off into a higher class than she is. That is of course, without her uttering a word. At her surprising transformation, even her father couldn’t recognize his own flesh and blood. This is shown when the author states: “: Beg Pardon, miss. Eliza: Garn! Don 't you know your own daughter? Alfred: Bly me! Its Eliza.” Shaw uses both language and appearance to demonstrate how the working class where not used to the luxuries of the upper class. This trend of judging ones’ class from his appearance associated with speech was dragged till the end of the play. Without knowing about Doolittle’s alteration, Higgins judges Doolittle’s class from his appearance when talking to the maid. The author depicts this when he said, “Doolittle! Do you mean a dustman? Maid: Dustman! Oh no sir, a gentleman”. The way the rich viewed the poor, indicated the wide gap in society, as well as the arrogance of the elite rich.

In conclusion, the author cleverly finds a way to reveal England’s social class through the support of
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