6 July 2016

Pygmalion - Social issues and theme of education

Social issues:

Bernard Shaw writes the play to challenge the traditional class system. The society is divided by language, education and wealth. The characters in the play are separated into three main classes, the upper, the middle and the poor. The art of speech is an important element between social classes at the time in England. Each character has its own identity and its own language. Eliza Doolittle is from the lower class. She is a poor girl who sells flowers on the streets. The book describes her as “…not at all a romantic figure…hair needs washing rather badly…” The power of the higher class is clear from the description of Higgins’ home in the play, when Eliza goes to Wimpole Street to request lessons from him. Mrs Pearce and Alfred Doolittle both represent the middle class. After Alfred Doolittle receives some money, he is well dressed and has some money, but he is not well spoken. When the maid opens the door to him, she thinks he is a gentleman. Higgins is from the upper class, but although he is well dressed, well spoken and has money, he is not considered to be genteel. He has the ability to know where people were born by their accents. The way people are dressed also shows the difference between classes. Higgins is considered as a gentleman and not a detective because of the boots he is wearing. This is expressed when the bystander says, "E's a gentleman, look at his boots." As for women, lower class women must only work, whereas middle class women may work or stay at home. The upper class women cannot speak the same words the lower class women say. In fact the class structure is strict. To conclude, Shaw is a socialist who shows that there is distinction between social classes and that the gap between them can also be bridged.

Tags: social problem, social class, society

Theme of Education:
In Pygmalion, the theme of education is used for self improvement and for a positive reason. Through education, Eliza, the flower girl, can improve herself so she can talk like a duchess. In fact, this may not increase her social status immediately, but it will definitely lead to positive changes in her life. For example, Eliza is just a flower girl who goes around peddling on the streets. After the experiment, she can work in a flower shop and have an actual job. Eliza is determined to become educated when she says, “I want to be a lady in a flower shop stead of selling at the corner.” The two gentlemen, Higgins and Pickering make a wager to transform Eliza into a duchess by educating her. However, it is more than just a bet between friends, because they have the challenge to make Eliza’s life better. She may not be necessarily a real duchess, but she can talk and behave like a real one. It is worth to say Eliza is brilliant and responds well to learning. This is clear when both Higgins and Pickering tell Mrs Higgins, “You know, she has the most extraordinary quickness of ear.” They are happy for her, and they even call her a genius. Moreover, education affects how one thinks and acts, and what to become in the future. Throughout the play, Eliza’s status is improved and she succeeds in working in a flower shop. In this respect Education can really help her rise from poverty and get a chance for a better life. In conclusion, the play shows how powerful education can be and how it results in positive changes into one’s life.

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