Lise Pedersen Review of a Review Essay

Submitted By LukeAcesYr12
Words: 769
Pages: 4

Lise Pedersen’s review “Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shew vs. Shaw’s Pygmalion: Male Chauvanism vs. Women’s Lib?” highlights a credible view that George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, may be a repudiated response of The Taming of the Shrew’s misogynistic ideals. The critic quickly states this, along with Shaw’s opinion that Shakespeare has failed to provide any innovative moralities in his plays. Instead, Shakespeare sustains the conventional male chauvinistic values of his era. Pedersen accurately identifies the abundance of similarities between these two plays, and their characters. These parallels allow Shaw to provide contrasting reactions, against Shakespeare’s structure of transforming a female character, in a male dominant way. However, the reviewer contradicts herself when arguing Higgins’ unbiased derogatory manner. As well as incorrectly comparing the similar, but not identical characters of Eliza and Katharine, of the two plays. Furthermore, the critique seems somewhat uninformed as the author has failed to consider Kate’s position in society, which is different to Eliza’s. This has a significant effect on her compliance to Petruchio, the corresponding male misogynist.
Pedersen convincingly interprets Pygmalion as a direct response to The Taming of the Shrew, where Shaw uses many parallels to recreate a similar situation. This conviction is realistic, as it is heavily supported through both texts. She classifies both of the main male characters, Higgins and Petruchio, as “overbearing bully(ies).” Higgins names Eliza as, “horrible dirty,” “a draggle-tailed guttersnipe,” and a “slut,” he is in constant disparage of the flower girl. Similarly, Petruchio also treats Kate in a no less than a derogatory, even cruel manner. Pedersen recounts that he “starves her into submission,” humiliates her, and even physically abuses her.
The critic proposes, that by creating equal and controlled conditions, Shaw is able to present a “diametrically opposed” reaction to Shakespeare’s play. Pedersen suggests that Shaw intentionally leaves out any physical abuse, to illustrate that it plays no part in transforming Eliza, or anyone for that matter. In The Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio uses physical abuse as a primary technique in degrading Kate to obedience. Therefore, such an assertion is satisfactory in capturing the conflict and denial which Shaw attempts to create against Shakespeare’s play. In addition, the reviewer correctly illustrates that “physical abuse is an admission of defeat, a reaction of frustrated rage to the failure to dominate.” This argument is supported by Higgins very nearly resorting to violence, as “He lays hands on her,” only when she threatens to “offer” herself to Professor Nepean. Pedersen’s contention is patently well thought through, in regards to these points.
Pedersen’s interpretation is tainted by an imprecise characterisation of Higgins (Pygmalion), and Kate (The Taming of the Shrew). The critic seems to contradict herself, in regards to Higgins. She suggests that the phonetics professor’s “bullying treatment” is his “natural way of behaving toward people and is not a special behaviour” for “transforming Eliza.” However, preceding this opinion Pedersen…