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power of appearance
Transcript of power of appearance
by Bernard Shaw
(Power of Appearance in Relation to Social Classes)
Critical Review of My Fair Lady
-Born July 26, 1856 in Dublin, Ireland
-Died Nov.2, 1950 at age 94
-16 famous works
-Nobel prize for literature
- 25% in poverty
- 20% middle class
rain causes a crowd (including Mrs. and Ms.Enysford-Hill) to huddle under the portico of a church
a flower girl (Eliza) tries to sell to a gentleman (Pickering)
a bystander advises her to be careful as there is a man taking notes
the man (Higgins) explains that he is interested in phonetics
Phonetics expert, bad manners, selfish
Transforms Eliza's speech into that of a lady
The social hierarchy is an unavoidable reality in Britain, and it is evident within Pygmalion. Shaw includes members of all social classes from the lowest (Liza) to the servant class (Mrs. Pearce) to the middle class (Doolittle after his inheritance) to the genteel poor (the Eynsford Hills) to the upper class (Pickering and the Higginses). The general sense is that class structures are rigid and should not be tampered with, so the example of Liza's class mobility is most baffling
-More romantic view
-High Classes not picked on as much
-Ending is completely different
-More of a definite ending than in play
-Ending different than Shaw intended
-Eliza is the comic hero
-She is young and beautiful
-Overcomes blocking figure
-Higgins keeps trying to change her identity but Eliza's spirit keeps her strong
-Goes through two transformations
-Achieves own personal victory
The Blocking Figure
-Higgins is the blocking figure
-Walks all over Eliza and treats her poorly
-transforms her into a lady only to leave her with little options for the future
-prevents her from being independent and individual
-Society can be seen as a blocking figure
-prevents anyone from moving up the class system
-can only be born into high class
Comic Elements Cont'd
Comic Love Plot
Eliza and Freddy's "courtship" begins and ends over one night.
They travel around the city in a taxi, much to the displeasure of Higgins.
The police and Higgins are their blocking figures
It is more of an inverse ironic take on the comic love plot
Liza's transformation from flower girl to lady is the most obvious
She undergoes a second transformation from a high class robot to an independent free thinker
Her father has undergone a transformation as well, by becoming a middle class man
Eliza arrives at Higgins' house wanting speech lessons
Mrs.Pearce discourages the experiment
Eliza's father arrives and "sells" Eliza to Higgins
Eliza's lessons begin.
Higgins brings Eliza to his mother's house so she can evaluate Eliza's progress
Eliza looks the part but shocks the guests with her slang and stories
Eliza is brought to an evening party at an Embassy
A linguist declares she is of royal Hungarian blood
Higgins and Pickering do not congratulate or thank Eliza
Eliza shows her frustration by throwing Higgins's slipper at him
Higgins and Eliza argue over how they treat each other
Eliza runs away with Freddy
Mr. Doolittle arrives as a middle class man
Eliza enters and thanks Pickering for teaching her how a real lady should act and threatens Higgins that she will use the skills he taught her to train others.
Eliza reverts to her old slang in the shock of seeing her father
Eliza decides she will marry Freddy
Rich, well mannered,
Adopts Eliza, supports her, and teaches her proper manners
Fairy Godmother figure who stands up for Eliza.
High-class status contrasts Eliza's low level.
Freddy is Eliza's love interest even though they are of different social classes.
-First NHA game
-Sinking of Titanic
-Roosevelt was president
-Higgins transforms Eliza from an untutored flower girl
into one who passes off as a duchess
-Eliza was completely dependent on the Col. and Higgins then realized she had the tools to be independent
-The Higgins we're introduced to is not the same Higgins
at the end
-Higgins studies the science of speech
-language is used to make fun of and create different social classes
-the higher class discern themselves from the lower class by using language as their reason
-Mrs.Eynsford Hill and her daughter think that Eliza's use of the word "bloody" and the expression "done her in"
-at the banquet Eliza passes Higgins expectations. Instead of passing off as one of "them"(higher class), she is mistaken for a royal.
-the originally untutored flower girl speaks more proper English than the educated higher class
Storm: Different classes coming together
Flowers: Beauty/innocence/Eliza's independence
Clothing: Sign of class, symbol of transformation
Taxi: Wealth, respectability
Slippers: Eliza's anger and unwillingness to let Higgins walk all over her
Bird Cage: Eliza's breaking free
Alfred Doolittle: Living symbol of non-conformity
How does symbolism add to the play?
Adds another layer of meaning
Relates with themes and ideas
Connects ideas to certain scenes & characters
Juxtaposition of Scenes
-Contrast between end of Act 1 and beginning of Act 2
-Scene where Higgins comes to his mother's house looking for Eliza
-Embassy scene where Nepommuck declares Eliza is a Hungarian Princess
-Contrast between original myth and play..(Ovid's narrative Metamorphoses)
Converse with your shoulder partner:
(Ask each other about the power of appearance, and how quick people judge one another without even realizing..)
Independent, intelligent, sensitive.
Experiences Cinderella-like transformation but must fight to maintain her individuality
Great Britain History:
According to an online article, it states, "England remained a society divided by class, and if anything, the distinctions between the classes increased during this period. England was the only European country where accent continued to divide people on the basis of class, and education also divided classes from one another.."(Lloyd 1).
Examples of Appearance:
End of Act IV: When Higgins offers Eliza clothing and jewelery, but she rejects it.. Higgins gets infuriated because he initially bet on her transformation into a "Duchess"
(Higgins is trying to make Eliza more physically appealing so high class can take her serious)..
LIZA: "I did not want no clothes. I can buy my own clothes.
HIGGINS: You're an ungrateful wicked girl. This is my return for offering to take you out of the gutter and dress you beautifully and make a lady of you" (Shaw 34).
(This depicts how Higgins is relying on physical appearance such as clothing in order to "transform" her into a lady)
Beginning of Act III, it states, "Eliza was exquisitely dressed, produces an impression of such remarkable distinction and beauty as she enters that they all rise, quite flustered" (Shaw 67).
This reveals how the Eynsford Hill's family is startled to see how Eliza presents herself, and how she is dressed eloquently, so they respect her.
The Author's Focus:
Shaw's overall focus was to emphasize on the distinction of social classes in order to prove how powerful appearance can be in the real world.
Initially, Eliza was presented as an "Unattractive girl who wore a shoddy black coat and boots that were much the worse to wear"(Shaw 9). However, over the course of the play, Higgins tries to persuade Eliza into wearing attractive & high-profile clothing and jewelery in order for her to gain the respect from the higher social class in London. He called this transforming her into, "A duchess from a draggletailed guttersnipe" (Shaw 31).
Appearance has the ability to acquire respect from higher class distinctions. With reference to Pygmalion, once Eliza dresses up adequately, her first impression is automatically pleasing in society's point of view.
Allusion to Great Gatsby:
One of the major topics explored in The Great Gatsby is the sociology of wealth, specifically, how the newly minted millionaires of the 1920s differ from and relate to the old aristocracy of the country’s richest families. In the novel, West Egg represents the newly rich, while East Egg, especially Daisy and Tom, represent the old aristocracy.
The old aristocracy is portrayed to possess grace, taste, subtlety, and elegance, epitomized by the Buchanans’ tasteful home and the flowing white dresses of Daisy and Jordan Baker.
Reference back to Initial Discussion:
(Judging a book by its cover"