Entertainment from today’s astounding visual effects in movies to men acting as women in Shakespearean plays some centuries ago, have always been and will always be appreciated by many.Even George B. Shaw’s play Pygmalion, has given a few laughs, but not only made for engaging an audience in something fun and making money, instead to a noticeable extent for people to learn.
“Pygmalion” in fact, is a play filled with its popular misconceptions, like in Act 1 where a professor in phonetics happens to recognize unknowably a person he was meant to meet in India, while arguing with him on a street in London. Here the class differences are very emphasized since the play is based on a social interaction between the classes, and this causing social problems. These social problems are mentioned as the sexual tensions arise in the play. One of the most important concepts Shaw though is the Socio-linguistics, since the story is based on a bet of a common flower girl transforming into a duchess thanks to a properly taught English.
In most stories misconceptions are found to make the plot more interesting. Shaw also uses this technique for his story to attract the reader making one event crucial for the development of the story.
“He opens his umbrella and dashes off Strandwards, but comes into collision with a flower girl who is hurrying in for shelter, knocking her basket out of her hands. A blinding flash lightning, followed instantly by a rattling peal of thunder, orchestrates the incident”
A common example of a popular misconception is when two people accidentally meet in odd circumstances. In this case two people coincidentally bump into each other on the street: a flower girl and a man who is in a higher class than her. It is this collision, with “a rattling thunder” which “orchestrates the incident” that explains how all the events come into place and becoming a good opening scene. In the leading event the first themes are introduced: the class differences.
“Six pence thrown away! Really, mamma, you might have spared Freddy that.”
( Act 1, pg. 17 Miss Eynsford Hill says about Eliza)
The class differences are very defined and the upper classes disrespect is very marked as seen in this quote. The quote suggests pretty much an air of superiority and arrogance from Miss Eynsfords Hill part and little compassion to a person who is trying to make a living. During the period of time the play takes place society had its social classes heirachiallythe upper class there was no interaction at all with the lower classes. As the play suggests the distinctions between the classes were even clearer. The poor were divided into two: the deserving and the undeserving poor.
“I’m a good girl I am”
(Liza constantly repeats this in the first acts of the play)
As deserving poor Liza, the flower girl has to continuously show her innocence. She has to work hard and be aware of the police, since they are often there as a hindrance. Any little mistake when selling flowers can be the cause of jail. The deserving poor are the people who try to climb the social ladder by working and try to have a decent living, much different from the undeserving poor.
” Dont say that, Governor. Don’t look at it that way. What am I, Governors both? I ask you, what am I. I’m one of the undeserving poor: thats what I am. Think what that means to a man. It means that he’s up agen middle class morality all the timeI don’t eat less hearty than him; and drink a lot more. I want a bit of amusement, cause I’m a thinking man”
( Act 2, pg 58 Mr Doolittle says to Mr Higgins)
The undeserving poor, the people who spend most of the time drinking the money they have earned do not have any remorse of not l…..iving a life with middle class moralities with its responsibilities and duties. Mr Doolittle is a stereotype for this kind of living.
As mentioned the class differences are utterly shown and while this interaction between the two classes occurs the issue of the social problem arises.
“You expect me to get into that and wet myself all over! Not me. I should catch my death. I knew a woman did it every Saturday night; and she died of it”
(Act 2, pg 47 Liza says about bathing)
The lower class had to be careful of catching diseases and protect themselves from the cold, London’s streets were harsh to live in. Bathing was, in fact, as the quote explains something to be afraid of, as nudity and issues involving their hygiene. This scene is like death for Liza, who has never even seen her own face in the mirror, which the author with his writing portrays realistically.These are one of the many social problems Liza is not ready to deal with. The act of having to give up everything she has learned throughout her life living on the streets is hard. She is suddenly facing new problems and a different way of thinking and living that is clearly illustrated in the bathing scene.
The sexual tensions that were not there before are now seen in the next acts. When the girl’s life of becoming as an “great opportunity” is seen as a “problem” for the women.
“Will you please keep to the point, Mr Higgins. I want to know on what terms the girl is to be here. Is she to have any wages? And what is to become of her when youve finished your teaching? You must look ahead a little.”
(Act 2, pg 42 Mrs Pearce says to Mr Higgins)
A conflict that is repeatedly mentioned in all acts, is this tension between the two sexes. To the men it is an advantage for a young woman to learn proper English and be able to climb the social ladder drastically. The women in the play, Mrs. Pearce and Mrs. Higgings instead see the consequences of the girl, the social problem, the adaptation she has to go through by living in an entirely unknown world.Socio-linguistics is included in this change of life the main character is dragged in to. How language is used was and is an important factor in every society.Mr Higgins, the professor in phonetics explains it being a decisive matter if one wants to climb in the social ladder.
“Men begin in Kentish town with 80 a year, and end in Park lane with a hundred thousand; but they give themselves away every time they open their mouths”
(Act 1 pg 27, Mr Higgins says to the gentleman, Mr Pickering)
The author gives the example of a poor girl that by talking according to upper class is mistaken as a princess. As you speak you are perceived which Shaw illustrates in the play. When the flower girl was treated as a lady she acted as a lady. This is a good lesson to learn and can be with all kinds of people and situations.
George B. Shaw did not only write this play to entertain which this analysis elucidates. Class differences are conspicuous, but it is hard to know the characteristics of each if one has not been in that position, illustrates the play. Therefore, plays that interpret the views of rich and poor, deal with social antagonisms and those are enlightened in “Pygmalion”. Not only this even sexual tensions are studied. As the men focus on one objective the women do not, they analyze its surroundings, thinking about it as a whole with its consequences. This one definitely sees with the male and female characters in the play. The socio-linguistics, which the writer also has as one of the main themes, is defined to be the key factor on how you perceive people. Lastly, what he also puts emphasis into is the popular misconceptions that are crucial for the plot of this story.