Themes of George Bernard Shaw's Play Pygmalion Essay

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Themes of George Bernard Shaw's Play Pygmalion

Pygmalion and My Fair Lady are a modern parallel of the story of 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. George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion is the story of Henry Higgins, a master phonetician, and his mischievous plot to pass a common flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, off as a duchess at the Embassy Ball. In order to achieve his goal, Higgins must teach Eliza how to speak properly and how to act in upper-class society. The play looks at "middle class morality" and upper-class superficiality, and reflects the social ills of nineteenth century England, and attests that
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In the following essay, I will discuss whether George Bernard Shaw agreed with this distinction and division of society and how he exhibited his views through his renowned play "Pygmalion".
Throughout the play, ladies and gentleman are continuously recognized for who they are through different factors such as how they are dressed, their manners, how they speak, morality or their money. It is however noticeable that a combination of all factors is rarely to be found. For instance Henry Higgins although well dressed, well spoken and with money, has manners which could not be characterized as genteel. Alfred Doolittle (after acquiring some money) is well dressed, has some form of manners and could be classified as rich, yet is not well spoken. Nevertheless, when the maid opens the door to him she instantly perceives that he is a gentleman. So what really does make a lady or a gentleman? Alfred Doolittle arrives at Wimpole St, in the second act, and doesn't even recognize his own daughter, Eliza, just because she has been washed and elegantly dressed. Alfred: Beg Pardon, miss. Eliza: Garn! Don't you know your own daughter? Alfred: Bly me! Its Eliza. This demonstrates that the working class was not used to washing and dressing up, which was customary for the upper class.
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