Jan 3, 2020 in Literature

book Drama Pygmalion


Pygmalion simply refers to a scenario where greater ambitions lead to advancement in performance. Just from the meaning of the word, the play “Pygmalion” revolves around love relationships where Higgin is committed to making Eliza Duchess by teaching her how to speak fluently. Eliza had a lot of expectations in Higgin that through his magic, she would be a Duchess at one point in life. The test comes as a result of the meeting of the two men. That is Higgin and Pickering. The former is a phonetic while the latter is a linguist. The former out of a casual talk to the latter, informs him that he could perform some magic on Eliza to make her speak fluently. The two gentlemen bet over the same, and they stage the same. Eventually, towards the end of the Play, Eliza ends up regarding Pickering as a gentleman as opposed to Higgin. Higgin ends up disappointed for having made the effort but still failed. When the play ends, Eliza has not gained the skills that are a mockery of the Pygmalion, and there is concern over her willingness to pursue the objective of being Duchess. Generally speaking, the word Pygmalion comes from a myth where a young man disappointed by the behavior of women makes a statue of a female that he keeps on admiring and wishes that it was a real lady. Pygmalion, the drama, was carved by Mr. Bernard show from this scenario where he decided to make the drama as romantic as possible. The drama is, however, a contradictory of the Pygmalion.

Mr. Bernard Shaw uses the Pygmalion play to speak about the discomfort that the modern woman brings especially in relationships. In the play, Eliza Doolittle is a classic example of such kind of women. She is however transformed slowly into becoming a lady of dignity. At first, her English was very deplorable, but eventually, she gets well-polished. Professor Higgin only remains to admire her, but she has no taste for him. Professor Higgin is an example of men who bully women and end up complaining about the character of women in society. The idea reflects in the irresponsible statements made by Higgin. In contrast, Professor Pickering represents an example of gentlemen whose ambition is to teach women about their dignity and respect. No wonder at the end of the play, Eliza falls in love for Pickering and not Professor Higgin. Indeed, shows motivation to write the play originates from the old Pygmalion myths.

Analysis of the Drama

The Pygmalion Drama presents a transformative story of a poor young girl by the name of Eliza Doolittle, who focusses changing her language and virtually all aspects of her life to look modern. Two people are particularly at the core of her change. The two individuals each reflect different personalities which shape Eliza in quite different aspects. The first person is Professor Higgin, whose Mr. Bernard Shaw depicts in the play as being careless in his talking. He does not portray the character of a gentleman though he initiates Mrs. Eliza’s transformation. The second person is Professor Pickering, who the author of the play describes as a gentleman and a man of self-respect. Eliza has always thanked Pickering for treating her like a lady, unlike Prof Higgin. I as much as Higgin falls in love with her, she is not interested and in return falls in love with prof. Pickering.

Transformation through the use of language

Language seems to be an excellent tool for social and behavioral change. It is surprising how Mr. Pickering only calls Mrs. Eliza and it sparks a lot of changes. From the very minute, Eliza perceives Mr. Pickering as a gentleman. On the other hand, Professor Higgins arrogant words towards her negatively affect her feelings. However, Higgins power to read identities based on language is what interests Eliza more towards change from a common flower girl to a duchess. It is for this reason that Eliza is interested in changing her way of talking so that her identity may not be revealed. At the end of the play, when Eliza finally becomes a Duchess, her identity is changed. Eliza wanted recognition as a member of the higher class and not the low class that she belonged. The low class in the play, for example, manifest through the use of slang language. The scenario appears at the beginning of the play where Eliza calls Mrs. Hills son “Freddy." Mrs. Hills was left perplexed. Through Pickering and Professor Higgins tutorials, however, Eliza creates a wrong impression amongst people about the class she belongs to. Of course, she comes from a low class but her language states otherwise. What comes out right in the play is the fact that the poor do not care about the language they use, and that’s why they use slang. It is for this reason that Higgin criticizes Eliza’s language as a mockery of Shake Spears language. The rich hold on to the idea that language is key to the preservation of their class. Eliza’s transformation, therefore, present her as a noble lady, one who fits in both the high and low class.

Transformation through Eliza’s Change of her Appearance

One of the factors that come out clearly from the play is how the social identity of Eliza changes with the change in language. As the drama begins, Eliza is easily identified by her mode of dressing as belonging to a low class. The flower girl attire certainly does not represent the status of the people who belong to the higher class. The clothing among other physical appearances, therefore, tells about which kind of social class, Eliza belonged. The only thing that cannot undergo change is nature; an individual can acquire a new identity. The proof of change in social status depicted by Eliza reflects in her new mode of dressing. It is unfortunate that even her father could not recognize her. The transformation she had undergone through her appearance was indeed so great. The father’s failure of recognition is only an example used by Bernard Shaw to espouse the magnitude of change that Eliza had undergone. Only the change in her mode of dressing was enough to blindfold her father. Her class is fully disguised. From a flower girl to what Mr. Pickering calls nobility of a lady. Eliza finally opens up to Higgin and Pickering of her state of confusion. She believes she has undergone a lot of social transformation in which she finds it quite difficult reverting to her old dressing, language and behavior. The confession reflects in the Act five. As usual, however, his loose tongue could not allow himself to hold on, Higgin was quick to counter the confession by saying that he was not entirely convinced that Eliza would not go back to her old life. The question that, however, begs the question is really where her Eliza has changed or is it just her new way of fooling people.

Eliza’s Change of Class and Behavior

The time at which the play came into place and first performed indicate a time of rigidity in social change. That was a period called the Victorian times during the early twentieth century. Looking at the play, the class dynamics point towards the fact that in as much as the poor as in a social struggle to breach the gap between them and the rich, the high class want to maintain their way of life. Mrs. Higgins and Hill play the role of the wealthy people as opposed to Eliza, who represents the low class. It is for this reason that Mrs. Hill does not want Mrs. Eliza to marry her son Freddy. The only reason Eliza cannot marry Freddy is the fact her family is not as wealthy as Freddie’s family. Such kind of perceptions are the ones that influenced Eliza’s decision to change her language and her social life. Indeed, Eliza beats the odds by refusing to be defined by her natural conditions at birth. She refuses to exist amongst the low-class people and chooses to live the high-class life. For her, a social class is not natural and can be changed through the willingness of an individual.

The polite and respectful nature of the poor Eliza depict that the sons and daughters of the low class properly behave that their high-class counterparts. Mrs. Hill, however, comments that habit comes from cultures. It is at this point that a culture-shaping Eliza’s behavior originates from the culture of the low-class people. Eliza is a great tool for social mobility reflected in the play. She has shown that despite the times, she is free and flexible to live the life she wants. Eliza changes from being a simple flower girl to a lady with a noble character admirable by Higgin, who is a member of the high social class. The class has however changed Eliza from being the simple girl she used to be into a somewhat difficult person because of the association she has acquired with the High class. When the play unfolds at the end is when Eliza discovers how much she has changed but it is too late for her to turn her life into a simple girl again. Her class has entirely changed, and this is reflected in the way she answers Higgin.

Eliza’s change of Education and her intellectual ability

The kind of English spit by the two professors, Higgin, and Pickering, leave Eliza amazed. She thereby conceives a mind to learn and be like the professors. Though she doesn’t go to class, her interaction with the two professors has shaped her intellectual ability, and this reflects in the way Eliza handles her issues with nobility. At the beginning of Act three, for example, Mrs. Higgin incorporates Eliza together with her guests because of her change. At the start of the play, it is Mrs. Higgin who looked down at Eliza. The poor young lady has however demonstrated that she is a fast learner. The social transformation of Eliza from a flower girl to a noble lady is, therefore, a reflection of intelligence on her part.

From a flower girl to a lady

The life of Eliza was quite an interesting one. Having been raised up in the slums, she belonged to the low class, but her intelligence could not allow her to be a prisoner of a social class. Captivated by the language of Professor Higgin and Pickering, Eliza is determined to learn to be able to change her social class and live like the people of the higher class do. At the party held at the Ambassadors garden, Eliza finally passes out as a duchess a clear reflection of her social change and intelligence. In fact, Eliza turns out to be a lady at the end of the play and even surpasses the mobility of her creator Higgin. She changes from the girl with the pathetic speech admirable by none to a lady with a great speech full of admiration from a majority of the people. Just like the Pygmalion-Galatea where an unpolished piece of work is turned into the most beautiful piece of art, however, so is Eliza, who has undergone a lot in life for her to be able to be that noble lady she ever dreamt of being. The manners in which Eliza carried herself at first, indicate a life of poverty. She is seen following up a man at the beginning of the play to solicit money in a vulgar manner. Her English was too vulgarly too.

The whole idea of social transformation for Eliza aimed at changing her vulgar life to be a lady of self-respect and dignity, something that she learns from Pickering. To change. However, it began with the language where Higgin became of a very great assistance. If not a member of the high class, Eliza wanted to be a member of the respectable middle class and thus the need for the search of a perfect and excellent English. In Acts six and seven, Eliza is completely transformed and lives her independent life. The transformation further leads her to her rejection of Higgins love proposal but rather sticks with Freddy. At the beginning of the play, Freddy’s parents were opposed to his marriage with Eliza but now that she is educated and dignified, she perfectly suits Freddy.

Eliza’s Language use transformation

Eliza’s change is characterized by a move from the use of vulgar language to a polite language after she is dignified. She spoke vulgar and acted crude. Her English was pathetic with a lot of spelling and pronunciation mistakes. It is not surprising that at one point Professor Higgin insulted her terming it an abuse of shake spears language. At the end of the play when she has finally transformed, we see her use very excellent English, and even her manners have become quite polite. She has learned the art of self-respect more than her teacher Higgin.

Eliza’s Decision When she finally becomes a Duchess

After her party at the ambassadors’ garden, marking her roll into the league of the Duchess, Eliza finally makes a decision about her marriage and love life. She chooses Freddy over Professor Higgin. She had several reasons for her decision. First, she does this by choosing to live an independent life from Higgin. She says while Higgin has an enthusiastic towards the world transformation, she is only interested in her personal transformation. Second, Eliza is satisfied with Freddy alone as opposed to Higgin, who is interested in the entire life. Thirdly, Higgins efforts are geared towards making the world a better place while Eliza and Freddy are only after making their home better. It is for this reasons that Eliza finally settled for Freddy despite the efforts of Higgin chasing after her.


From the above analysis of the Pygmalion drama, it is plausible to conclude that indeed the play is full of lessons for the human race. The play teaches us that nothing is impossible in life. From the play, Eliza’s humble background is not a barrier for her to marry Freddy, who comes from a high class. She sustains all the abuses simply because she needed to polish her language and character in readiness for the marriage with Freddy. She defies to become a prostitute for Higgin and chooses to follow her heart. The play presents a story of transformation from poverty to richness. From poverty of language to the richness of language. From the use of slang language to Duchess. It is a story of the change in morals from the use of vulgar language to the use of very polite language. The story teaches us to be more concerned about humanity rather than self-interest. For example, Higgin was only concerned about making human beings tools for his profession without caring about their feeling. We see him use abusing language towards Eliza just because she belongs to the low class. On the other hand, Pickering presents himself to Eliza as a gentleman. A person who cares about human feelings and self-respect despite the class. He is not concerned much about his profession but the emotional touch towards humanity which Higgin lacks.

The Influence of the Pygmalion is far-reaching. One lesson learned from the Pygmalion is the ability to transform. It doesn’t matter how an artist begins but the constant dedication in perfecting the art is what counts. Any person can be, modeled into whoever he or she wants with a willing heart. Eliza was a nobody, but she wanted to learn the language of the professors. In achieving this, she sustained all abuses from Higgin but knew what exactly she wanted in life.


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