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Pygmalion. The identity of Eliza how does it change and is it for the better?

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Introduction

The identity of Liza - how does it change and is it for the better? Pygmalion was written by Bernard Shaw in 1914. The play tells the story of a man called Henry Higgins; a professor of phonetics who makes a bet with a friend Colonel Pickering that he can successfully pass of a low-common cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle as a sophisticated lady by teaching her how to speak with an upper class accent and an improvement in etiquette. Eliza Doolittle by chance meets Higgins and grabs the opportunity to better herself. Eliza wants to improve herself so she can be a flower-seller in a shop instead of on the streets. Eliza manages this after a lot of hard work and she changes in a number of ways. The changes Eliza makes include: learning to speak correctly by Higgins tuition, she learns about personal hygiene, she learns manners from Mrs Higgins; she learns how to dress properly by Mr Higgins, her confidence and self-esteem increases with Mr Higgins behaviour towards her. The ending of the play is ambiguous because although Eliza has changed her identity, she is so unrecognizable to the other street flower sellers that she no longer fits into her old class and society anymore; she is no longer sure of who she actually is. ...read more.

Middle

This is a very positive change in Liza because now she has changed to be a hygienic person and looks like a lady. Throughout, the play when Liza is growing and learning every day, she gets respected more from other people. "(Very courteous) won't you sit down?" This suggests the great respect Pickering pays Liza from the beginning. As a result of Liza's improved treatment from others, it make her self esteem increase, she gets more confident. The audience will notice Pickering acting like a true gentleman. Liza needs respect during her change in identity, so this is a positive change. After a period of time, Higgins decides to test Liza to see if she has learnt anything of what he has taught her. He takes Liza to his mother's at-home day. However, after a while Liza suddenly starts to relapse back into her old gutter speech and mind. "They done the old woman in" "Gin was mother's milk to her." This evidence suggests that Liza hasn't actually changed at all. The language she used reminds us of her old cockney flower girl image and that she still reflects on her now. ...read more.

Conclusion

This creates an effect on the audience because she is showing she has changed and is not the same person, she used to be. Liza has shown an external change rather than on the inside because she still reverts back to her gutter speech at certain times. Overall, Liza has changed. She has changed in many different ways which include her new identity which has come along with her improved hygiene, self-esteem/confidence, etiquette, views, goals/ambitions and her relationships such as one which formed with Freddy. Liza has found her self-importance and independence which she can now leave Higgins, without his need all the time, as she leaves with Freddy, which doesn't entirely make her happy. Liza would have liked to stay with Higgins but he didn't want her. She can't return to her previous life because Higgins has left her unfit for it, example is Liza's father Doolittle, who hates being rich. If anything Liza's transformation has taken away her identity because she no longer knows who she is; she isn't Doolittle's daughter anymore, no longer a street flower seller and no longer Higgins experiment. She doesn't know what her future holds and doesn't know what she is going to do. ...read more.

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