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Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw

A presentation for AP Lit by Rebekah Entralgo, Kirstin Williams, and Gabi Jones

Rebekah Entralgo

on 6 October 2012

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Transcript of Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw

Pygmalion Perhaps the most striking example one could point out of Marxist ideals in Pygmalion would be the harsh distinction between classes the Shaw makes a point of. Pygmalion from the Marxist perspective: Although Shaw depicts an honest portraiture of how women were treated in Victorian Era England, taking a feminist perspective of Pygmalion is easily done. Eliza already is quite a character to Higgins because of her gait and language, but he recognizes another striking character trait about her: shes independent. Eliza, while a flower girl, relies on no man (only the men that give her money for that matter) she is not married and seems to show no intention on being married. Higgins sees this and in an essence, takes away Eliza's independence to mold her into a "fair lady" so that she may find a husband to support and take care of her because women are the "gentler sex" and need taking care of. In the end however, Eliza's indignant and independent disposition shines through and she marries the man of HER own choice rather than stay under Higgins rule. Pygmalion from the feminist perspective:
Man creating the perfect woman. Shaw's interpretation of Pygmalion has the men conduct their experiment on a whim. There is no reason that they decided to teach Eliza proper phonetics, other than they thought it would be a fun experience. In the original, Pygmalion created Galatea because he was tired of the way the women in his town were acting, and wanted someone who was pure. He wanted to create someone more perfect, so that he could love her. Higgins and Pickering molded Eliza into somebody who would fit into society, the exact opposite. They created something out of nothing- just how a sculptor would create something out of nothing. What happened to Eliza after the experiment was no concern of theirs either, they figured that she could just go on with life with nothing changing. Pygmalion from the perspective of the myth: For those of you who don't know
much about Marxism: hold that all societies progress through the dialectic of class struggle: a conflict between an ownership class which controls production and a lower class which produces the labor for goods. Heavily critical of the current socio-economic form of society, capitalism, he called it the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie", believing it to be run by the wealthy classes purely for their own benefit, and predicted that, like previous socioeconomic systems, it would inevitably produce internal tensions which would lead to its self-destruction and replacement by a new system, socialism Bernard Shaw makes apparent the struggle between the haves and the have nots (Higgins and Pickering belong to the upper class while Eliza belongs to the lower class). Here were numerous things Eliza was not used to such as baths, electricity, different garb for day and night, social finesse, etc. It's so obvious that it seems like Shaw wanted his readers to use this type of criticism. By bringing Eliza through the social classes, Higgins was able to prove that the only obvious difference between the classes was their appearance and etiquette. Pygmalion was a goldsmith who was interested in sculpturing; he carved a woman out of ivory. He was "not interested in women", but his statue was so fair and realistic that he fell in love with it.In time, Venus' festival day came, and Pygmalion made offerings at the altar of Venus. There, he quietly wished that his ivory sculpture would be changed to a real woman. When he returned home, he kissed his ivory statue and found that its lips felt warm. He kissed it again and touched her breasts with his hand and found that the ivory lost its hardness. Venus had granted Pygmalion's wish. Pygmalion married the ivory sculpture changed to a woman under Venus' blessing. Comparisons with My Fair Lady Feminist Perspective Marxist perspective Mythological perspective
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