The Art Of Speech In The Play Pygimalion

804 words - 4 pages

The interchange between language and social class can be symbolized through Shaw’s characters. The author uses different characters to portray different aspects of class divisions. England’s social class, as a major theme, was clarified greatly through the art of speech. Throughout most of civilization, people have been divided in classes. There is the rich and powerful, the middle class who are less powerful but nonetheless respected, and the incapable poor. The author cleverly bestows his characters’ their own identity, by giving each a language and speech that suits their bubble of reality: their own social class. Shaw depicts members of all social classes, the lowest being Liza, known for her London’s working class cockney accent. Furthermore, the middle class (Doolittle after his inheritance) to the genteel poor (the Eynsford Hills) to the upper class (Pickering and the Higgins’ family). Those who were classified in the upper class, where known for their proper articulation for the English language. Even though the articulation was proper, it did not need to reach perfection. The author reflects this through Mr. Higgins, who was rich and well articulated, but his manners when speaking where not genteel as it was naturally supposed to be. Nevertheless, Shaw symbolizes the idea of language being intertwined with speech through our very own Pygmalion Mr. Higgins, a professor of speech and phonetics. Higgins was marvelous at his job and hobby, that he was capable of identifying where people were born- reveling their class- from their accents. This can be shown when the author stated, “ I can place any man within six miles. I can place him within two miles in London. Sometimes within two streets.” Not only where characters, through their speech, a real representation of their class, but other factors too.

The storyline’s major plot, in transforming Eliza into a duchess was a trigger for the realization of the British social class. The author finds in Pygmalion a way to turn words into action, by hinging the fairy tale outcome of the flower girl on precisely how she talks. In this way, he draws our attention to his own art, and to his ability to create, through the medium of speech, not only Pygmalion's Galatea, but Pygmalion himself. When Higgins offers to help Eliza become a lady, merely to win a bet, he did not...

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