“Pygmalion,” a masterful play by George Bernard Shaw, showcases the transformative journey of Eliza Doolittle, a flower girl, under the tutelage of Professor Henry Higgins, a phonetics expert. This play delves into themes of social class, identity, and the power of language. Shaw skillfully weaves a narrative that challenges societal norms and expectations, while also exploring the complexity of human relationships.
Pygmalion is a representative play written by George Bernard Shaw. Sentiment is the main theme of this play. The very title of the play is significant. It refers to Pygmalion, the Greek sculptor, who carved a statue of a woman in which Venus breathed life. When the statue became alive. Pygmalion married when the statue who bore him a child. The Shavian Pygmalion is Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics. He picks up a flower girl named Eliza Doolittle. He teaches her fashionable language and manners and then successfully passes her off as a Duchess. But she is a living being and cannot, therefore, be treated as a mere machine. In course of all his experiments and exhibitions, the Professor only thinks of his own skill, his own success and failure. But he never stops to consider how the girl feels. When the experiment is over, he has a profound sense of relief and joy that he has achieved his triumph and won his bet. Even now the sentiment of the girl is of no account. The girl naturally protests against this dehumanized relationship between her and her teacher. She hurls the professor’s slippers at him when he wants them and then leaves his place, a free woman. Evidently, she has begun to fed for the professor and wants also to be felt for.
The nature of Eliza’s feeling for the Professor is very remarkable. In the last act, the girl says that she would not marry him even it he proposed to her. The professor himself is curiously insensitive to sexual emotions. He does not love young women because he finds in them poor rivals to his own another. If Eliza would not marry Higgins, what exactly does she want from him? Old Mrs. Higgins, who knows much about women, says that it would have been all right, if he had thanked her, petted her. and told her how splendid she had been. Every girl has a right to be loved and Eliza loves and is loved by Freddy Hill whom she marries Professor Higgins remains as ever, an old bachelor.
Also Read :
- Compare Hamlet with Macbeth, Othello and other Tragedies
- “The Pardoner’s Tale” is the finest tale of Chaucer
- Prologue to Canterbury Tales – (Short Ques & Ans)
- Confessional Poetry – Definition & meaning
- Line By Line Explanation Of The Poem The Eve of St. Agnes
The stormy protest of Eliza against Higgin’s callousness and the tempestuous search of the Professor have according to Shaw, no deep emotional background. They liked each other, they looked after each other. they grew accustomed to each other, they were pleasant to each other, but they did not fall in love. It is because Shaw is very shy of deep emotions that he concludes a real drama with such an anti-climax. There is no doubt that Eliza was deeply moved when she left the professor’s place and it is equally certain that Higgins was in a feverish excitement when he went out in search of her. Shaw here creates a situation charged with deep emotional possibilities, but as he has a distaste for or an impatience of emotions, he stops to remind us that it was only a desire for a little fun that was at the root of the whole affair. The explanation, however, is totally inadequate. Eliza finds that a little kindness is not enough to make life worth living, and she leaves the professor for the weak and poor Freddy Hill.
A dispassionate study of Pygmalion suggests that she chooses Freddy Hill only because she cannot get Henry Higgins. Indeed, she begins talking about Freddy only after the estrangement from professor Higgins is complete. Speaking about Freddy, she says And if he’s weak and poor and wants me, may be he’d make me happier than my belters that levelly me and don’t want me. Her language shows that it is because her betters bullied her and did not want her, that she chooses him who wants her. though he might be weak and poor. Her emotions are much deeper than a mere desire for a little petting and when se tells Higgins that she would not marry him if he asked her, she is not a coquette. Neither does she announce a well-considered decision. It is only when the Professor has made the insulting proposal that she should marry Colonel Pickering that she looks Fredy round at him and says. “I would not marry you if you asked me; and you are nearer my age than what he is”. This decision is a part of her rebellion against the tutelage of a Professor who has looked upon her only as his master prince’. It springs from almost the same emotion which Irene feels for Professor Rubec in Ibsen’s When We Dead awaken. Shaw is not only blind to romantic beauties in the works of Shakespeare and Dickens. But he does not understand romance in his own creations and cannot, therefore, to full justice to the deeper possibilities in this play.
Shaw has not achieved greater success in portraying the character of Henry Higgins than that of Eliza Doolittle. The most momentous event in the Professor’s career is the exhibition of the flower girl as a duchess. and the greatest thing in his life is his attachment to and estrangement from Eliza. Shaw says that his feelings were always free from the associations of sex. In a postscript, he discusses why there was a disengagement of his affections his sense of beauty and his idealism from the specifically sexual, impulses. These things have not been touched on in the drama. In the play, Mr. Higgins is represented only as an eccentric Professor with a magical command of phonetics. He declares that he does not like young women on the ground that they have an irritable rival in his mother, but this idea has not been dramatized. Shaw has not shown how the specifically sexual impulses aroused by a girl like Eliza conflict with the noble idealism with which Mrs. Higgins inspires her son. In the drama, the Professor is shown only as a specialist in phonetics with an ulter insensibility to all kinds of deep emotions Shaw is never at home in the region of affections and emotions. He relegates the discussion of this all important subject to a Prosteript where he wants to tell the rest of the story”. The interaction and conflict of emotion is one of the most suitable subjects for drama. But as Shaw’s avoids romance and sentiment. Pygmalion has to end with an unbelievable anti-climax and a learned and thoughtful postscript. The above estimate shows that Pygmalion is a representative play of GB. Shaw. It reflects his anti-romantic, and realistic attitude to life. It also shows his art of characterization, and his awareness of the topical problems of his time.
In summary, “Pygmalion” is not just a play about language and class; it’s a nuanced exploration of identity, respect, and self-worth. Shaw presents these themes in a way that is both thought-provoking and entertaining, ensuring the play’s enduring relevance and appeal.