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

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

Extracts from this document...


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.

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?

    (Page 102) and is no longer prepared to be suppressed by his haughty egotism. There is no doubt that Eliza's transformation is a successful one, however, I think something very important to realise about Eliza is that despite the radical changes that take place in the play with her appearance,

  2. The Importance of Language.

    The same author, Katherine Mansfield, utilises two distinctive, contrasting methods of expression through language, as the styles are in total opposition[JIS26]. They both portray Mansfield's precise detail with great efficiency. One communicated its expressiveness through simplicity, while the other allows the reader's mind to simplify and expand the stories.

  1. Microcosm of the society is shown through the use of language in Pride and ...

    lack of realisation of the importance of intelligence and education for women at that time. Her enthusiasm in marrying off her daughters shows how marriage is such an important issue for woman that time and marrying early is their main priority as shown through this quote: 'Her mind was less difficult to develop.

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

    He is greeted by Mrs. Eynsford Hill and this is his reply: "I've seen you somewhere before, I haven't the ghost of a notion where; but I've heard your voice. [Drearily] It doesn't matter, you'd better sit down". Towards someone of your own class, this would have been very rude.

  1. Sexism is a form of prejudice.

    Why does it have to be a woman who looks desirable? What if a man wants to look sexy? The woman actress Christine Rucker is shown as a sex symbol in a photo advertising her latest film. But this advert also states that she has a 'fabulous figure' and it even gives her sizes.

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

    Shaw, being a social reformer, felt that the English society was inherently unfair. He believed that society was riddled with problems due to their class-consciousness. By showing how quickly Eliza and Doolittle were excepted into the middle class, he is displaying the superficiality of society.

  1. Give a lecture to Swindon College students explaining how George Bernard Shaw uses the ...

    By improving her language no one suspected anything of her early life. In Act I the audience meets the Eynsford-Hill family, to illustrate the point of the language gap. Just by their name they are instantly placed by the audience in the Upper-Middle class.

  2. What do Eliza and Higgins learn from each other? How does this “education” change ...

    However, by the end of the play, she manages to make everyone believe that she is a duchess, which proves that she has learned a great deal socially. We immediately assume that Higgins is rude, as a result of one of the first things he says.

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