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Give a lecture to Swindon College students explaining how George Bernard Shaw uses the power of language to make his audience think about social change.

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20th Century Drama Coursework - Pygmalion. Give a lecture to Swindon College students explaining how George Bernard Shaw uses the power of language to make his audience think about social change. Morals, Money, Class. Are they linked? George Bernard Shaw explores ideas on these subjects in his play Pygmalion. He also uses language to make the audience think about social class and change, that is what I am going to try and tell you about today. In Act I, initially the characters are not given names, but stereotypical titles such as 'The Flower Girl' and 'The Note-Taker' (Henry Higgins) Already this is showing divides between these people before we are told that they are going to feature as major characters in the play; for instance, a flower seller is a very degrading, lower class job for people who didn't have the right opportunities as a child, for whatever reason, or whose status in society wasn't high enough to enable them to get a job which would have rewarded them with much more respect. Higgins' title, however, of 'The Note Taker', indicates to the audience that he is a well educated, probably Middle Class man who has a highly regarded job, very much unlike Eliza, even (as was first thought) ...read more.


Mrs Higgins is not impressed and sees what her son is really interested in, the money behind the bet and tells him that being a lady is not just about the language but is about the small talk. This is when Eliza swearing caused an outrage in theatres and Clara adopted it as the 'new small talk' As you know Eliza wins Higgins' bet for him and passes herself off as a duchess at the ambassador's reception. After that, Higgins loses interest in her like a toy he doesn't want to play with anymore and just wants to put her to the back of the cupboard and forget about her, but he cant do it. Eliza has become a much more independent woman, this is proved when she stands up to Higgins and he realises he can no longer tell her what to do. She has developed in many more ways than just her language, her whole attitude and outlook on life has changed, she has become a completely different person and is quite accustomed to her new life in the Middle Class. This is very much unlike her father. When he suddenly came into a fair amount of money he refused to change his attitude and stays as a lower class man with the money of someone in the middle class. ...read more.


He only does jobs like this because if he didn't he would be thrown into the gutter where he would fit in much better, but would lack the privileges that he once had. I think this is why he is such a good match for Eliza and why they end up being married, he is essentially a lower class citizen, the same as Eliza, but he just has a bit more money for them both to lead a comfortable life. Money is the main basis of the class system, but it is really about much more than that. That is probably the reason that the rigid Victorian class system crumbled, there were too many complications and in modern day life we still have some sort of ranking, that cannot be avoided, but it is nowhere near on the scale of what it was in the 18th and 19th Century. Pygmalion is a play full of different accents and dialects. Today, hopefully I have explained some of them in more detail to you and also given you some other valid points to do with the play to help you understand what Bernard Shaw wrote and to think about the play in the context of the 20th Century when it was written and not just read the words on the page. 1 ...read more.

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