Pygmalion and Pretty Woman

The Greek Myth of Pygmalion, about a sculptor and the woman he creates and falls in love with, has been appropriated into various texts of different times and made relevant to a wide range of audiences. In particular, George Bernard Shaw’s English play Pygmalion and the American film Pretty Woman have adopted certain language, form and values, in order to communicate this same story to different audiences in specific cultural contexts.

The universal themes addressed in the myth of Pygmalion characterize its suitability for these appropriations. Issues like beauty, prejudice, the search for perfection, relationships, and dreams are applicable to virtually everyone, and these themes are what give way to appropriations relevant to almost any cultural context. For example, the idea of the creation of a beautiful, living woman from a block of ivory, that is, the creation of something considered as a ‘nothing’ into a real and true person, has been applied to two other contexts. In Shaw’s Pygmalion the ‘nothing’ of this time is a poor flower girl, while in Pretty Woman’s cultural context a ‘nothing’ is a prostitute. Another example of a universal issue is the idea of society’s expectations and what is considered appropriate. In...

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