• Published in 1916
• Set in London, England
• Time set in early 20th century
• Mood: a mixture of witty, and didactic.
• Pygmalion describes a speech therapist who takes up a bet that he could pass an ordinary flower girl off as a Duchess at an ambassador’s garden party in six months.
• Henry Higgins: a bundle of contradictions, Henry hates women. He is incredibly talented and educated, but is a jerk. A jerk that you have to love at times. He is very blunt, not minding what he says. His profession, hobby, and joy lie in phonetics and the science of speech, he can place any person by their accent.
• Eliza Doolittle: The poor, dirty, untutored, flower girl on the street that Higgins found. ...view middle of the document...
Shaw also did a wonderful job at making Eliza’s transition realistic by throwing in internal conflicts.
Eliza wasn’t always the beautiful darling of high society. In the beginning, she was the daughter of a drunken pickpocket; on her own, she had to try to sell flowers to make a living. She had no tutoring, bad grammar, and a thick accent that kept her from pronouncing words the correct way. When Eliza first meets Pickering, she tries to sell him flowers by saying, “Cheer ap Keptin, n’baw ya flawr orf a pore gel” (7). Her accent is terribly strong and proves difficult to eliminate. In one scene, Eliza is being taught how to say her “C”s like in “cup”. Her struggling helps her teaching seem more real than some magical transformation. When Eliza goes to the garden party, she speaks better than all the guests and even the hosts. Higgins’ old pupil Nepommuck even mistakes her origin. He tells the host and hostess, “She is not English.
“Hostess: Oh nonsense, she speaks English perfectly.
“Nepommuck: Too perfectly… only foreigners who have been taught to speak it speak it well” (64). He then goes on to explain why he believes Eliza is Hungarian, and of royal blood. Eliza’s pronunciation and articulations were so precise and perfect, that she was misjudged by everyone, even an expert. Her elocutions changed from sounding as if she lived in the London gutter to sounding like royalty.
Her posture and poise also changed, but she also kept some of her defiant ways. After she agreed to be part of Higgins’ project, Mrs. Pearce is told to give Eliza a bath. Since she grew up in the London gutters, Eliza has never had a bath, and is even superstitious about taking one. “I couldnt. I dursnt. It’s not...