• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Examine how Shaw uses comedy to draw attention to the absurdities of class structure in ‘Pygmalion.’ Contrast this with another of your texts.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Examine how Shaw uses comedy to draw attention to the absurdities of class structure in 'Pygmalion.' Contrast this with another of your texts. 'Pygmalion' by Bernard Shaw adapts the myth of 'Pygmalion,' a legendary sculptor, who falls in love with a statue he has made of the goddess Aphrodite. The goddess brings the statue to life as Galatea, and Pygmalion marries her. Shaw decided to adapt the myth for the modern stage depicting Higgins as a contemporary Pygmalion and Eliza as his creation. Yet Shaw's play differs from the myth in avoiding its marriage plot and emphasising Eliza's 'assertiveness and independence.' Shaw wanted Pygmalion to be both socially and morally instructive. Beneath the comedy lies 'a satire on the superficiality of class distinctions.' Bernard Shaw founded the Fabian society, a socialist, political organisation devoted to transforming Britain into a socialist state. This is how Shaw described the Fabian Society; 'The Fabian Society seeks to establish equality as the universal relation between citizens without distinction of sex, colour, occupation, age, talent, character, heredity, or what not...The Fabian Society not only aims at complete political equality as between the sexes, but their economic independence. It advocates the explicit recognition by legally secured rights or payments of the value of the domestic work of women to their immediate domestic partners and to the State as housekeepers, child bearers, nurses and matrons.' ...read more.

Middle

Clara's behavior is no better that Eliza's but she is respected because she is a lady and expects to be treated like a lady. It is obvious that Clara has no manners in the way in which she talks to others. She talks to her brother, Freddy almost as if he is no relation of hers, just a stranger trying to find a cab for them. She says; 'And what about us? Are we to stay here all night in this draught, with next to nothing on? You selfish pig-' The audience laughs at Clara's expense because we find her rudeness and her seeming to have no manners entertaining. She would be played as a very snooty character with a very upper class accent which is useful to portray her rudeness when she talks to others in the way she does. Clara demands respect but doesn't earn it. Clara is a very fragile character who depends on others. Whereas Eliza is a very witty, independent and strong character the complete opposite to Clara. Higgins makes assumptions about characters according to their accents. He says of Doolittle's language; 'Sentimental rhetoric! That's the Welsh strain in him. It also accounts for his mendacity and dishonestly.' This is a comic caricature and stereotyping according to accent and language. It reveals the assumptions people make according to the accent and dialect of a person. ...read more.

Conclusion

He's rude to her because of her accent and her class although, ironically he does become very fond of her by the end of the play. When Doolittle 'sold' Eliza to Higgins he says he can't afford morals but later in the play he complains about having to adopt middle class morality. He describes middle class morality as having ' to live for others and not for myself'. We laugh at his response to becoming middle class because it is ironically not what we would expect, one would expect the opposite. It is also ironic because when he 'sold' Eliza he demanded money from Higgins and bargained the price with him. This links in with money and class. The result of the play is not what we would expect because traditionally comedies end with marriage. In my opinion the ending almost ruins the comic flow of the play. Eliza is left stuck between two classes. She is neither of upper class nor of lower class, she speaks like a lady but isn't one. We are left to make our own decision about the ending of the play but we assume that she marries Freddy. Maybe the ending is suggesting that people of different classes don't mix well, but this is unlikely because of Shaw's Fabian ideals, it would go completely against them. So we are left to assume that it is morally correct for Eliza to end up with Freddy rather than to keep on living with Higgins and Pickering. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. In what ways does Eliza Doolittle change in Pygmalion?

    Shaw's apparently cruel and even insulting comments on Eliza's initial appearance may seem harsh, however they have very important relevance. The Eliza's shabbiness at first not only amplifies the dramatic transformation which results, but also highlights the vast difference between her and Miss and Mrs Eynsford Hill, which conveys to the reader Eliza's lower status and class.

  2. How Does Shaw Use the Ovid Myth and Cinderella Story to Tell a Modern ...

    He says, "The moment I let myself become friends with a woman, I become selfish and tyrannical." Higgins would much prefer to get on with his life alone as he feels women are simply "a damned nuisance." His achievement parallels that of Pygmalion, the sculptor, as he tries to create a real woman from unpromising material.

  1. In Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw brings all his dramatic talents to bear on the ...

    Higgins sees Eliza as lower class; "I treat a duchess as if she were a flower girl" put Pickering sees Eliza as an equal, someone of the same class as himself or above "he'd treat a flower girl as if she were a duchess."

  2. Using the factual accounts of the sinking of the Titanic, compare and contrast how ...

    Throughout the film the crew are shown to be professional and polite throughout, especially Lightholler, as the developing scenes of the film increase and when there is a rising tide of panic amongst the passengers and crew, Lightholler leadership qualities still stand out, as he is able to think in a calm and logical way, and overcoming many difficulties.

  1. "In 'Boule de Suif' Guy de Maupassant plants a time bomb ticking under the ...

    the proposition, having sex with the enemy was not an option any women should be forced to take, but this view is not upheld as soon as they realise they are unable to leave until she gives into the Prussian officers demands.

  2. How does Shaw introduce his ideas about society and language in the first two ...

    Even Pickering assumes they will "have trouble with him"(Act 2). This is a rare example in the first two acts of Pickering sharing the same prejudices as Higgins. In act two Pickering urges take "no advantage" of Liza's position. Shaw avoids using stereotypes.

  1. The Beauty Myth

    Now we can look out over ruined barricades: A revolution has come upon us and changed everything in its path, enough time has passed since then for babies to have grown into women, but there still remains a final right not fully claimed.

  2. How does Pygmalion highlight the importance of accent, manners and words in 1912?

    Being a middle class citizen, she looks up to upper class gentlemen such as professor Higgins. "What do you think a gentleman like Mr. Higgins cares what you came in?" This shows that the typical upper class person in early 20th century London is thought to be someone with

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work