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Transcript of PYGMALION
George Bernard Shaw
G.B. SHAW was born in Dublin in 1856His education was musical rather than literary, infact at the age of twenty he became a critic of music and art and contributed to several periodicals.
He joined the Fabian Society, a middle class socialist group whose aim was to transform Britain into a socialist state without a revolution.
In 1925 he was awarded the Nobel prize for Literature, and he died at the age of ninety-five in 1950.
The Theme of Language
His most important works
“Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant”
“Arms and the Man”
“Mrs Warren's Profession”
“Man and Superman”
A prophet of Realism
G.B. Shaw describes himself as a Puritan reformer whoused drama to criticise Victorian institutions.
His mission was to improve society, creating social awareness.
Professor Higgins is a scientist of phonetics, and Colonel Pickering is a linguist of Indian dialects. The first bets the other that he can, with his knowledge of phonetics, convince high London society that, in a matter of months, he will be able to transform the cockney speaking Covent Garden flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, into a woman as well-spoken as a duchess.
Pickering agrees to cover the costs of the experiment if Higgins can pass Eliza off as a duchess at an ambassador's garden party
For a number of months, Higgins trains Eliza to speak properly. Two trials for Eliza follow. The first occurs at Higgins' mother's home,second trial, which takes place some months later at an ambassador's party, is a great success.
The wager is definitely won, but Higgins and Pickering are now bored with the project, which causes Eliza to be hurt; she is very angry with him because she does not know what is to become of he
The following morning, Higgins rushes to his mother, in a panic because Eliza has run away,on his tail is Eliza's fatherMrs. Higgins, who has been hiding Eliza upstairs all along, reproaches the two of them for playing with the girl's affections. When she enters, Eliza thanks Pickering for always treating her like a lady, but threatens Higgins that she will go work with his rival phonetician Higgingsprays her to return to him at Wimpole Street.
Eliza, who has a sweetheart in Freddy, and the perspective to pass as a duchess, never makes it clear whether she will or not return with Higgins.
Eliza is not the Cinderella of the story, nor Higgins is the prince. Shaw in his play,inspired by the myth of Pygmalion (Ovidio), aimed to awake the social conscience and wants to criticize the myth of Cinderella or other parvenue resurrected in other lives. There is a strong critique of the British class-consciousness that distinguishes social positions also and especially through the linguistic inflection (The comedy shocked viewers of the Edwardian period to the beat of Eliza : "Not Bloody Likely”). And there's even more the problem of the manipulation of individuals by the upper classes against those who are ignorant.
The original play went on the theatre stage for the first time the 16th october 1913 at the Houfbourg in Vienna. It was divide in 5 acts plus the conclusion.
Despite the strong relationship , in the central part , between Eliza and Henry , the original version of Pygmalion ends with her leaving to marry the passionate young Freddy Eynsford HillSome years later he gave the film of the 1938 a more ambiguous ending : instead of marrying Freddy , Eliza apparently reconciles with Henry in the final scene , leaving open the possibility of their marriage.
The play has had several adaptations :
• Pigmalione (1938) , a film adaptation organized by Shaw.
• My Fair Lady (1956 ), the famous Broadway musicals , edited by Lerner and Loewe and based on the movie of 1938.
• My Fair Lady (1964), the film version of the musical starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.
• Kiss Me ( She's All That ) (1999 ), a film that revisits the Pygmalion
“sentimentalism” or “idealism”, replaced by Shaw's “realism”
Uncritical adulation of Shakespeare, replaced by the Norwegian playwright Ibsen
Henry Higgins is a professor of phonetics who plays Pygmalion to Eliza Doolittle's Galatea. He is the author of Higgins' Universal Alphabet, believes in concepts like visible speech, and uses all manner of recording and photographic material to document his phonetic subjects.He is an unconventional man, who goes in the opposite direction from the rest of society. He is impatient with high society and forgetful in his public graces. The only reason the world has not turned against him is because he is at heart a good and harmless man. His biggest fault is that he can be a bully. He can also be considered as a boule of contradictions: he’s a woman-hater mama’s boy, a personable misanthrope and a lovable jerk.
Professor Henry Higgins
"She is not at all a romantic figure." So is she introduced in Act I. She’s the typical street girl that will become a brilliant and beautiful young woman. She's smart, independent, and feisty. She has an unique problem: she howls everytime she gets angry and men coudn’t love this type of girl.
Everything about Eliza Doolittle seems to defy any conventional notions we might have about the romantic heroine. She is transformed from a sassy, smart-mouthed kerbstone flower girl with deplorable English, to a (still sassy) regal figure that concerns with nobility. The character of Eliza Doolittle comes across as being much more instrumental than fundamental.
Colonel Pickering is a match for Higgins in his passion for phonetics. But where Higgins bully, Pickering is always considerate by society and a genuinely gentleman. He helps Higgins in the Eliza Doolittle experiment, saying he will cover the costs of the experiment if Higgins does indeed make a convincing duchess of her. However, while Higgins only manages to teach Eliza pronunciations, it is Pickering that teaches her to respect herself.
Alfred Doolittle is Eliza's father, an elderly but vigorous dustman who has had at least six wives and who "seems equally free from fear and conscience." When he learns that his daughter has entered the home of Henry Higgins, he immediately pursues to see if he can get some money out of the circumstance. His unique brand of rhetoric, an unembarrassed, unhypocritical advocation of drink and pleasure, is amusing to Higgins. Doolittle becomes a richly endowed lecturer to a moral reform society, transforming him from lowly dustman to a picture of middle class morality--he becomes miserable. Throughout, Alfred is a scoundrel who is willing to sell his daughter to make a few pounds, but he is one of the few unaffected characters in the play, unmasked by appearance or language.
Professor Higgins' mother, Mrs. Higgins is a stately lady in her sixties who sees the Eliza Doolittle experiment as idiocy, and Higgins and Pickering as senseless children. She’s the typical mother figure: she’s worried about his son because she saw his faults and inadequacies during the experiment but she also fears for Eliza’s fate. After watching Eliza's performance at her little party, Mrs. Higgins tells it like it is to her son: Eliza's certainly a fine example of your art, she says, but you're just going to leave her in an awkward position. Eliza won't be able to support herself with the kind of skills you're giving her.
Freddy is the Romantic Interest. In another play, he might have a big part. In this play, he barely has a part at all. There's not much romance to be found. Freddy's not exactly a heartthrob. When we first meet him he's running around looking for a cab…which he never finds. In Act 3, he mistakes Eliza's normal Cockney speech for "small talk." He thinks she's the bee's knees, and quickly falls in love with her. He wants to walk through the park with Eliza but she'll have no such thing. Still, he leaves the party in high spirits.
Freddy Eynsford Hill
We can cover these two women at the same time. They're always together, after all. And they really just represent two stages of what Shaw calls "genteel poverty." They're a mother/daughter team of reasonably wealthy ladies. They start the plot going when they ask Eliza if and how she knows Freddy. They represent everything that Eliza is not: they're clean, well-dressed, and well-spoken. In the third act, we find out via Mrs. Eynsford Hill that the family isn't doing so well, and that Clara really doesn't get it. They're on the decline while Eliza's on her way up, and they're all headed for the same, uncomfortable middle ground.
Mrs. And Miss Eynsford Hill
THE MYTH OF PYGMALION
"The English have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it. They spell it so abominably that no man can teach himself what it sounds like" .
“It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him. German and Spanish are accessible for foreigners: English is not accessible even to Englishmen.”
“Ow, eez ye-ooa san, is e? Wal, fewd dan y’deooty bawmz a mather should, eed now bettern to spawl a pore gel’s flahzrn than ran awy athaht pyin. Will ye-oo py me f’them?”
"the rain in spain stays mainly in the plain"
PYGMALION is a sculptor who fell in love with a statue he had carved, seeing in her all the perfect features he searched in a woman. In the same way Mister Higgins transforms Eliza (a raw diamond) in a Lady, ending up to fall in love with her. Despite that the comedy does not have an happy ending: they are too different to love each other, or at least that’s what Higgins thinks