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How does Shaw introduce his ideas about society and language in the first two acts of Pygmalion?

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How does Shaw introduce his ideas about society and language in the first two acts of Pygmalion? From the first two acts of Pygmalion, Bernard Shaw has already begun to develop society and language using a number of different techniques and aspects. In the first act the audience is introduced to three main social classes all brought together by the weather. We see their stereotyped judgements, their attitudes and prejudices against each other. It is Higgins belief that men trying to climb the social ladder will "give themselves away every time they open their mouths" (Act 1). Shaw also uses accent, revealing society's bias that accent is the key to social status. This is already apparent through the proleptic irony of Liza, and the status of those around her. Humour is used to show how different the characters' situations are. Each class has at least one character that is humorous, but all their wit and comedy originates from different sources, for example Liza and her need for money. The first two acts of Pygmalion show great insight into the well-rounded representatives, which will come together and make Shaw's image of society. ...read more.


She is impatient and completely dependent on others. However, lower down in social status in Liza who is a complete contrast. She is witty and strong. She encourages the gentleman by telling him to "cheer up; and buy a flower off a poor girl." Unlike Clara she is very independent which is also shown in Act two when she asks Higgins for lesson. In this case Higgins main belief is that Liza's accent can change her status. Higgins' is, of course, extremely biased. He believes that " a woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere" (Act 1). He represents a side to society, which many people may outwardly oppose, but internally agree with. He believes that Liza's English "will keep her in the gutter to the end of her days" (Act 1) It is his conviction that the key to social status is accent. Higgins' has a higher social status than Liza, so disapproves of her accent. The contrast of Liza and Higgins' expression and pronunciation shows how Shaw has introduced society and language in Pygmalion. Liza's coarse and broad cockney accent can be difficult to represent without the phonetic alphabet. She asks, "Ow, eez ye-ooa san, is e?"(Act 1) ...read more.


In the same way, Alfred Dolittle's tactics of persuasion and lack of morals are humorous. He describes Liza by saying "in the light of a young woman, she's a fine handsome girl. As a daughter, she's not worth her keep" (Act 2). He will happily exchange his daughter for money, using light-hearted, humorous language. Freddy's humour is based around a much more simple situation, but still reflects his status. The woman left him "with a cab on my hands! Damnation!" His dilemma is laughed at and not with. The fact he orders a cab and then becomes frustrated that he has one, shows the insignificant problems of the higher class compared to the poorer classes. Therefore, Bernard Shaw introduces his ideas about society and language in the first two acts by investigating the different aspects of the characters class and status. He develops his image of society by portraying the clear boundaries which separate class through characters, accent and expression, and humour. Through the prejudices which are displayed, Shaw delivers the subtle message that inside we are all the same, just as Liza believes that her "character is the same to me as any lady's" (Act 1). Shaw begins to use the characters, their lives, attitudes and language to reflect Society's intolerance and discrimination. Joanna Dias ...read more.

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