Pygmalion Analysis

Submitted By monica626
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How does the writer’s historical context influence the ideas in the text?

Nineteenth century Britain was a time where equality between genders and equality between social classes did not exist. It was also a time where females asserted their independence and equality with men. George Bernard Shaw captures these ideas in ‘Pygmalion’ where his fabianist views and criticisms towards beliefs and ideas of Victorian era are portrayed. His purpose of critiquing society and give a voice to the poor has influenced his choice of characters and ideas in the text.

The interaction between characters embodies the Fabian views of Shaw through the characterisation of Higgins. Instead of portraying him in a desirable powerful man, Shaw captured him as a negative controlling man who has little respect over women. Satire is also used when Higgins refers Eliza as a Squashed cabbage leaf’, which is humorous initially but the audience soon realises the brutality of the comment. Furthermore, the diction used such as ‘created’, ‘baggage’ and ‘sell’ and the metaphor of ‘this creature’ to refer to Eliza objectifies her. As Higgins says to Eliza that she doesn’t ‘belong’ to anyone, Shaw represents Higgins’s view of young women need to ‘belong’ to someone. Such comments that refer to women capture Shaw’s criticisms of society where males showed their superiority and lack of inequality between man and woman. As for his fabianist view, he presents it through the discriminating voice of Higgins to shape the readers perspective towards men of the time.

Women of the Victorian era were portrayed as being reliant on marriage to gain economic stability. As Shaw narrates from the perspective of an outsider, ‘She will marry him because she must marry anybody who will provide for her’ he implies that women required man to gain economical relationship in order to have a place in a society. Although woman chooses men depending on their class and wealth, Eliza marries Freddy instead of the powerful wealthy Higgins. Though Higgins is much wealthier than Freddy and can provide cloth, food and security, he brutally bullies her therefore she chooses peaceful and weaker man, Freddy who can fetch her suppliers for a lifetime.

Through the emotional change of characters, Shaw brings to attention the inaccurate strict social boundaries. The strict social morality and the lack of empathy/emancipatory in middle class society is captured in the character of Mr Doolittle. As the Victorian era placed great importance on the hierarchical social structure, Shaw portrays the character as becoming more constrained and restricted by the customs and expectations of the middle class. As Doolittle becomes Middle class man, he expresses discomfort and distress because of the overwhelming expectations. As Mr Doolittle quotes ‘Oh, I have to live for others now, not for myself’ indicates that his independence has been taken