The Creator of a Lady: The Illusion of Empowerment in the Reformation of the Female Identity in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion College
I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely. -Simone de Beauvoir Tête-à-Tête: The Lives and Loves of Simone de Beauvoir & Jean-Paul Sartre
This paper seeks to examine and analyze, as portrayed in G. B. Shaw’s Pygmalion, the reformation of Eliza Doolittle’s identity into being socially acceptable by Henry Higgins- a man who gives himself the status of her creator. It discusses, from a Liberal and Marxist-Socialist Feminist perspective, the outward improvement of her manners as illusory empowerment as well as her loss of control over her own source of livelihood, and her eventual consciousness of it. It also discusses the differences in societal expectations from men and women, and the hypocrisy therein, and the audience’s preoccupation with a happy ending.
A play that starts out as an interesting peek into the world of linguistics is artfully transformed by George Bernard Shaw into a deeper commentary on society and its effect on gender identity. In Pygmalion, Shaw portrays the nuances of class and gender relations through an engaging plot centered on a flower-girl and a Professor of Linguistics playing their part in a fateful bet. Professor Henry Higgins’...
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