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

How does Shaw draw the audience's attention to issues of social class in Act II of 'Pygmalion'? (p20-35)

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How does Shaw draw the audience's attention to issues of social class in Act II of 'Pygmalion'? (p20-35) In your answer also consider: * in what ways this scene is typical of the play as w hole * what it tells us about life in 1914 England; * other possible interpretations In the early 20th century, social class was a very big part of everyday life. The class system was divided into the upper class, the middle class and the working class. Being born into a certain class meant that you stayed in that social class for the rest of your life. It would also limit an individual to what they would be able to do for a living, where they lived etc. Pygmalion squashes people's beliefs about the class system and shows the audience that you can be whoever or whatever you want to be. The playwright George Bernard Shaw got the name Pygmalion from an ancient Greek myth called 'Metamorphoses' in which there was a sculptor who went by the same name. The statues he created were his biggest love in the world and he tended to spend most of his time with then as he disliked company, especially that of women of his village, Amathus. ...read more.

Middle

On the other hand Shaw also mentions that "Mr Higgins has the gentlemen's bathroom downstairs, and he has a bath every morning, in cold water". This tells the audience that the upper class are quite used to having baths and find it perfectly normal whereas the lower classes think of having a bath as a completely alien concept. In addition to the bathroom scene, Bernard Shaw also uses humour in other parts of the play, for example in the at-home scene. In this scene, Colonel Pickering and Professor Higgins decide to try out an experiment and invite Liza to Mrs Higgins at-home to see if they could pass her off as a real lady. Eliza tries to make small talk with other people from the upper class but makes a huge mistake, especially for those times, by saying the word "b****y". The other characters reaction to this word is hilarious because they are so horrified she has said something so "inappropriate" and for an audience of 1914 this one scene became something worthy of front-page news. There is also a part in this scene, in which Eliza says "Did you tell him I come in a taxi?" which implies that she believes it is a great privilege to ride in a taxi as she is from the working class and she is not accustomed to such luxuries. ...read more.

Conclusion

I think my response to the play was a lot different to the type of response that a 1914 audience might have had. Parts of the play which I found humorous would have been quite shocking and outrageous for an audience in 1914. For example when Eliza uses the word "b****y" I thought it was quite funny as she said it in a very elegant way even though she was swearing, but an audience of 1914 thought it shocking and this simple word made front-page headlines. I also thought that it was quite challenging for me to relate to Pygmalion and its character because of how strong the opinion on social class are. Nowadays, there is a lot more social mobility and an individual's social class isn't necessarily what they were born into but what they choose to become. Nevertheless, there are still issues about social class, and those from working classes do not receive the same opportunities as people from the upper class. Also, men and women are not entirely seen as equal beings, but social class issues have improved a great deal. I think many people do still enjoy the play and can relate to it, and the musical "My Fair Lady" has kept the spirit of Pygmalion and made it even more world-famous and renowned than it originally was. ?? ?? ?? ?? Neha Solanki 10AL November 2007 English: - 20th Century Drama Coursework ...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 Other Authors 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 Other Authors essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    What is the Importance of Alfred Doolittle to Shaw's 'Pygmalion?'

    5 star(s)

    Doolittle also reveals Higgins' delight in unorthodox opinions, as Higgins offers him ten pounds in place of the original request for five. This aspect of Doolittle's character is important to the play because it allows the audience to see the middle class versus working class conflict.

  2. Secrets. The Beautiful short story Secrets is based on the theme of relationships, which ...

    Also, because the aunt was reading to him, when it is something you would more likely expect his own mother to do. We then get the impression that there might be some sort of issue between the aunt and the boy's mother.

  1. Elizabeth Doolittle and Henry Higgins have an odd relationship in the play. Both ...

    * Another example from nearer the end of the play is after their visit to the Embassy. After continuous harassment from Higgins, Eliza had decided how to conduct herself in Higgins's presence.

  2. In Harold Pinter's 'The Birthday Party' is it true to say that the character ...

    He seems to turn into a lunatic as well for later on he turns off the lights when celebrating his birthday and Rapes Lulu. He would not have done this prior to his encounter with Goldberg and McCann. When he first met her earlier in the play, it seemed as

  1. Discuss the relationship between Frank and Rita in Educating Rita how does it change ...

    Franks reactions also reflect his feelings of turmoil as he constantly criticises Rita with sarcastic remarks such as "It's not - not wrong. But I don't like it" This change in Franks character and actions also tells the audience that he is now a dependant on Rita; their roles have completely reversed since the start of the play.

  2. I am going to write about how Walter undergoes a transformation in the play ...

    The other two stage directions shows the Walter is very emotional and very relieved when he turns against the idea of getting the money from Mr Lindner. Language is used in several ways to show the different feelings Walter is having and his family.

  1. How is the issue of conflict dealt with in the play East is East?

    This makes George feel like no one understands the way he feels. Sajit is also misunderstood as just being a messed up kid for keeping his parker on. Sajit's parker is a way for him to escape the conflict at home as all the arguing and violence seems almost like a war zone to him at times: 'Cause...

  2. How does Ayub Khan-Din portray conflict in the play East is East

    The debate on whether circumcision is right or wrong is one that was raised, and whether or not they are "dirty". Also political views, "All he talked about last night was being a good Muslim and the trouble In East Pakistan."

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