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My Fair Lady - How is Eliza transformed from a 'squashed cabbage leaf' into a 'duchess'?

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Introduction

Katherine Webber 10JW 23rd of January 2003 How is Eliza transformed from a 'squashed cabbage leaf' into a 'duchess'? Dublin born Bernard Shaw made the elevation from his Synge Street origins to a famous writer. The blockbusting musical, 'My Fair Lady' derived from Shaw's most prominent play 'Pygmalion' which was also popular in the early 20th century. In the 1900s, class was very important and the belief that you were born into a class and stayed there was common knowledge. Shaw wrote 'Pygmalion' because the distinction between the working and middle class had never been made. The play shows the differences between the classes and how a common 'guttersnipe' can become a respectable member of society. ...read more.

Middle

"Did you tell them I come in a taxi?" Eliza knows that she'll have to act like a lady as well as talk like one but she must also look like a duchess. Mrs Pearce, the fiery housekeeper to Henry Higgins, will often speak her mind to Higgins especially on her thoughts of Eliza. Mrs Pearce makes Eliza look like a lady by bathing her and dressing her in the day's fashions. Doolittle, Eliza's father, stands out of Eliza's way when she is clean and nicely dressed. "Don't you recognize your own daughter?" This shows that asceticism is important in the distinction of the classes. ...read more.

Conclusion

Higgins' bullying and mean remarks make Eliza strong. "I'm not afraid of you, I can do without you." Pickering treated her as she ought to be treated, giving her the power, confidence and bravery to stand up to Higgins. In conclusion, I believe that like many things, it was not one aspect that changed Eliza. She couldn't have become a 'duchess' without aesthetics, phonetics and social ability and a Lady wouldn't take Higgins' bullying. But, Higgins and Pickering did teach Eliza an unexpected lesson - it is not how you look or how you speak that matters, but the treatment you receive. For even if Higgins 'treats a duchess like a flower girl', Pickering will always 'treat a flower girl like a duchess'. Katie Webber 10JW ...read more.

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