Seems thus showing that a person of a high social

  • No School
  • AA 1
  • 12

This preview shows page 11 - 12 out of 12 pages.

seems, thus showing that a person of a high social class cannot always act as a person of a higher class should, or would, under normal circumstances. * Nevertheless, Higgins and Eliza represent a stark difference in backgrounds and intelligence, but behave with a remarkable likeness. Eliza, in becoming such a person of high class, is disheartened by how Higgins still treats her poorly. He is locked into this mindset because of his social class, which is the basis of Shaw’s criticism. Pygmalion looks at the superficiality of upper class society, a society in which social status is determined by the language that one speaks, one’s manners, and the clothes one wears. Pygmalion addresses the social ills in England at the turn of the century. Victorian England was characterized by extreme class division and limited social mobility. Language separated the elite from the lower class. In Pygmalion , Eliza’s dialect inhibits her from procuring a job in a flower shop; Pygmalion is about the universal truth that all people are worthy of respect and dignity, from the wealthy nobleman to the beggar on the street corner. The difference between a common flower girl and a duchess, apart from appearance and demeanor, is the way she is treated. Treat the flower girl as if she were a duchess, worthy of respect and decency, and she will become a better person as a result. Shaw questions the defining criteria of what constitutes a gentleman through the character of Higgins. It is obvious that Higgins’ manners are not much better than those of the Covent Garden flower girl. * In fact Higgins comes off much worse because of the fact that he has had all the civilizing benefits of wealth and education yet he is rude to the point of being rough and ill-mannered, is given to frequent * To avoid any prejudice or misunderstanding, I would like to illuminate some facts about the British social hierarchy. The social hierarchy is an unavoidable reality in Britain, and it is interesting to watch it play out in the work of a socialist playwright. 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 shocking. The issue of language is tied up in class quite closely; the fact that Higgins is able to identify where people were born by their accents is telling. British class and identity are very much tied up in their land and their birthplace, so it becomes hard to be socially mobile if your accent marks you as coming from a certain location.
Image of page 11
Image of page 12

You've reached the end of your free preview.

Want to read all 12 pages?

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern

Stuck? We have tutors online 24/7 who can help you get unstuck.
A+ icon
Ask Expert Tutors You can ask You can ask You can ask (will expire )
Answers in as fast as 15 minutes
A+ icon
Ask Expert Tutors