Writings will often reflect the cultural assumptions and attitudes of their time period, which includes the general insolences towards women: their status, their roles, their expectations. Pygmalion, a play written by Bernard Shaw, uses the feminist perspective to present a realistic or convincing picture of the world women live in, helping the reader better understand Liza’s internal impasse.
Act 1 begins with the author’s attempt to present idea of ?Eliza’, who at the time is a nameless flower girl amongst a cluster of pedestrians taking shelter from the rain. She objects to a well-groomed note taker (Higgins) writing down her words as she sells flowers, as if she’s doing something improper. She contests He’s no right to take away my character. My character is the same to me as any lady’s. Though a dirty, grossly dressed member of the working-class poor, she nevertheless exhibits strong-willed pride in speaking up to the gentleman and defending her character. This portion of the story helps the reader better understand Victorian culture, as they take respectability very seriously. Eliza refuses to let someone rob her of the thing she values as much as any lady. The play continues with Eliza upset that Higgins”a professor of phonetics”has been copying down her speech. The nameless flower girl persists in protesting her innocence and her right to share the street with him. Impatient with her complaining and horrified by her awful English, Higgins berates her for sounding like a ?sick pigeon’: A woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere”no right to live. Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and The Bible; and don’t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon. ( Act 1, Higgins.) His blatant disrespect to the female – Eliza – reveals to the readers his deep respect for the English language and his passion to hear it spoken correctly. This fact advances the plays narrative by helping the reader understand his profession later.
The second act starts to describe the note taker, Higgins, in further detail. Professor Henry Higgins is a phonetician, that makes a bet to take the lower-class working woman, Eliza Doolittle, from the streets and turn her into an upper-class lady. In this, he attempts to sculpt her into his ideal image of a woman by teaching her how to dress, speak, and act in proper company; which moreover will make her better off in society. I want to be a lady in a flower shop stead of selling at the corner of Tottenham Court Road. But they won’t take me unless I can talk more genteel. (Eliza, to Higgins & Pickering, Act 2). In light of the situation, her request demonstrates courage, because she”a nobody in society”is laying out her dream before these gentlemen. There is every chance one or both could crush it. The idea that the men are the ones with the power to ‘make-or-break’ her future relay’s the gravity of Elisa situation to the readers.
The story directly acknowledges the disparity seen in female inequality by having Mrs. Higgins“The professors mom“act as the voice of reason and caution throughout the play. You certainly are a pretty pair of babies, playing with your live doll. (Mrs. Higgins, Act 2.) At this point, Eliza dresses exquisitely, and her articulation is nearly perfect. However, her lack of social graces gives away her low-class origins. Unphased, Higgins and Pickering excitedly discuss her progress, yet speak of Eliza only as an object in the experiment. Mrs. Higgins sees how the girl as a person is being overlooked, and chastises the two men for their insensitivity.
The story conclusively reflects the cultural assumptions and attitudes of their time period, which includes the general insolences towards women: their status, their roles, their expectations.
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