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How Does Bernard Shaw Create Comedy, Seriousness, Sympathy, And Empathy In Pygmalion?

1548 words - 6 pages

In the play, Pygmalion, Bernard Shaw creates many events that consist of comedy, seriousness, sympathy and empathy. These four emotions helps the audience decide what they feel towards

--------------Shaw creates a lot of humour often in ways where Higgins is not aware of it. After Eliza had showed her anger and hatred towards him by throwing insults at him Higgins calmly replies back. The surprise for the audience in this is that usually the audience would expect Higgins to retaliate in a similar fashion, but instead he talks to her in a peaceful manner. Higgins says, “The creature is nervous after all.” He calls her a ‘creature’ in third person which seems to be an attempt to wind Eliza up. This would normally annoy the audience but Shaw turns this into a comedic event as Higgins is blindly insulting Eliza and is completely unaware of how his words will have an effect on her. The audience, therefore, laughs at Higgins’ oblivion.

--------------Shaw makes comedy with simple and common effects such as sarcasm. Here is a clear example of sarcasm in use: “Oh yes, of course. You shied them at me.” Here, it is obvious that Higgins is irritated here; the use of sarcasm shows the audience this. Shaw has created emphasis on the word ‘shied’; this could indicate that Higgins had probably found the fact that the slippers had been thrown at him, quite annoying. If Shaw had rearranged that sentence to: “Oh yes, of course. The ones that you shied at me”, the emphasis would be put on the word ‘you’ which shows annoyance towards Eliza. This could be found as quite humorous as the reminding of the incident seems to cause irritation up on him.

--------------Another way Shaw displays humour is when Higgins says something serious and it is ruined by something that Higgins says. “You may take the whole damned houseful if you like. Except the jewels. They’re hired.” Higgins is very annoyed at this moment and is being serious but Shaw makers this humorous for the audience because his serious demeanour changes when he says: “Except the jewels…” as he was displaying his serious side but he then changed the subject which caused the seriousness to disappear. Here, short sentences are used; this seems as if Higgins is quickly rethinking about unimportant things - this could come across as amusing to the audience. Shaw shows how Higgins is serious here by using the word ‘damned’ which is a word that represents anger. The comedy in this is when Higgins brings up the ‘hired jewels’ which is quite insignificant in what he is saying. This spoils the seriousness and makes the audience laugh.

--------------Another example of this is when Higgins is asking Eliza if she had thought about whether he could do without her or not. This is quite a sweet moment as it shows that Higgins does care about Eliza and we pity him. But then Higgins says “I can do without anybody”; here, he blatantly contradicts himself, making the audience laugh.

--------------Higgins refers back to Eliza...

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