Oleynikova the author was interested in the

March 23, 2019 Education

Oleynikova Sofya, group 174, DV4
History and Culture of Great Britain
Social Issues in Pygmalion
Today I would like to tell you about different social issues in Bernard Show’s
Pygmalion. I would like to start with the explanation of the author’s intentions to call the play this way. It is the Greek myth: Pygmalion was a fairytale king of Cyprus, who fell in love with the statue he made by himself. Then he married with her after Aphrodite revived the statue at a huge request of king. The intention that haunted Bernard Show was quite obvious. The name Pygmalion should recall that Eliza Doolittle was created by Alfred Higgins in the same way as Galatea by Pygmalion. So, as far as the author was interested in the relationship between the character and the social status, especially proves the fact that a radical restricting of character he made even the main theme of the play “Pygmalion”.

A lot of modern literary critics have an opinion that Shaw promote certain political and
social ideas. The study of the variability of human nature and dependence on class affiliation is nothing more than the doctrine of the social determinacy of the individual. The play “Pygmalion” is a good tool, which addresses the problem of determinism. Even the author himself considered her “an outstanding didactic play”. And now, I would like to tell you about the most crucial social issues of this play.

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The first, and I suppose the most important one, is possibility or impossibility to change
the person’s identity. This position in the play is showed by the fact that in the center of the main events is the 18-20’s year old girl, who came from the East End of London, where even a ‘pig would not want to live’, with all the traits of a street child’s character (vulgar habits, illiteracy). Then she turns into a woman with the character traits of a lady of high society. You will ask, how? So, this is the purpose of the author. To show how radically a person can be changed, Shaw chose the transition from one extreme conditions to another. If such a radical change of a person is possible in a relatively short time (only 6 month), then we should tell ourselves that any other change in the human being is possible, the only main thing is the correct approach in education and training.

The second not less important social problem can be considered is the problem
of communication, speech. As you know, the society is built on contact and communication between people, the problem of the influence of speech on life is very urgent. And of course, Bernard Shaw could not ignore it in his play. The second important question of the play is how much speech affects human life. what are the benefits of a person’s correct pronunciation? Will it be an advantage? Is it enough to learn to speak correctly to change your social situation? Here’s what Professor Higgins thinks about it: ” <…>But you have no idea how frightfully interesting it is to take a human being and change her into a quite different human being by creating a new speech for her. It’s filling up the deepest gulf that separates class from class and soul from soul.” As is shown in the play, the dialect of the London East is incompatible with the essence of the lady, as well as the language of the lady cannot be connected with the essence of a simple flower girl from the East district of London. When Lisa forgot the language of her old world, the way back was closed to her. Thus, the gap with the past was final. Lisa is clearly aware of this during the play. Here’s what she tells Pickering: “I can’t. I could have done it once; but now I can’t go back to it. Last night, when I was wandering about, a girl spoke to me; and I tried to get back into the old way with her; but it was no use. <…> I have forgotten my own language, and can speak nothing but yours. That’s the real break-off with the corner of Tottenham Court Road. Leaving Wimpole Street finishes it.” But: trying to present her to society as a lady failed. Elisa said: ” What call would a woman with that strength in her have to die of influenza? What become of her new straw hat that should have come to me? Somebody pinched it; and what I say is, them as pinched it done her in.”- even with excellent pronunciation and intonation Liza’s English is not for ladies and gentlemen. Higgins admits that Eliza, along with the new pronunciation, must also learn new grammar and a new dictionary. And with them a new culture. So, this is the answer for a question at the beginning – language is not the only expression of a human being. Out to the reception to Mrs. Higgins has one miss – Eliza doesn’t know what they are talking about in society in this language. Pickering admitted that it was not enough for Elisa to even know all aspects of the language. She must develop the interests of the higher society and feel its heart. As long as her heart and mind are filled with the problems of her old world: the murders due to the straw hat and the favorable effect of gin on her father’s mood, she will not be able to become a lady, even if she knows all the subtleties of the society.
It seems to me that this is the difficult path she is making, this aspiration is the
embodiment of a new ideal of man for a society that will not be the same as before, to which other people will aspire. She did not become a Countess, but a woman whose strength and energy are admirable. It is significant that even Higgins can’t give up her attractiveness -disappointment and hostility soon turn into warmth. He seems to have even forgotten about the original desire to make Liza a countess.


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