Pygmalion and Equality

Essay by happyhappy187High School, 12th gradeA, March 2004

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Shaw's play, Pygmalion, demonstrates the belief that all people are created equal and all have equal ability and opportunity to achieve and succeed in every aspect of life, by revealing the absurdity of the class system of Victorian England. This belief goes strongly against Victorian era's views of social stature; social roles and classes were regarded as natural and fairly inflexible. Shaw, who was an ardent socialist, saw flaws in this way of thinking, and rebelled against it in his many writings. This can be see in Shaw's treatment of Eliza, Colonel Pickering's behavior, as well as Shaw's portrayal of the upper classes in comparison to the lower classes.

Eliza, is in the beginning of the play, obviously very poor and from a low class, as she wears raggedy clothing and has the difficult job of selling flowers on the street. As well, she talks with a different, rougher, tone and vernacular than Freddy, Pickering, or Higgins.

This does not, as Shaw shows, mean she is any way inferior to people of the higher classes. As she says herself, the only thing that truly sets apart a flower girl and a lady is not how she behaves but how she is treated. The difference in the way she is treated as a flower girl and as a duchess is enormous. When she was a lowly flower girl at the beginning of the play, upper class people tried to stop others from giving her money for her flowers and even hesitated to talk to her. However, when she was thought to be a duchess she commanded the utmost respect from the upper class people at the final party, winning compliments about her impeccable speech and undergoing numerous conversations. Between these two events there was...