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The Effect Of Invention And Innovation On Conformism

1524 words - 6 pages

Throughout history, iconoclasts have played a vital role in transgressing society’s self-imposed boundaries, expanding individual perception past prejudices of society. Such revolutionary ideals embed themselves throughout many of literature’s greatest works, essentially forgoing society’s previous prejudices in lieu of a new, revolutionary perspective. Such works serve as an impetus for the spread of further revolutionary ideals, allowing for a continual renewal of society’s central beliefs or a cyclic cleansing of society’s perceptions. Shaw’s Pygmalion and Brecht’s Galileo attempt to rebut ideals of their time by centering around the triumph of radical subjectivity, in the form of invention and intellectual property, over society’s contemporary dogma.
In Shaw’s Pygmalion, the dialogue of Eliza Doolittle results from various changes in intellectual property. Higgins and Pickering initially believe that dialect results from social class. Higgins demonstrates a standard reaction to flower-girl of the proletariat, while Pickering’s treatment of Eliza is more uncommon. Pickering treats Eliza as a member of upper-class society. Higgins treats Eliza as his creation; an object whose reasoning he determines. Higgins’ steadfast behavior results in a conflict between him and Eliza, as presented in their argument: “Higgins: [Eliza] won my bet! [Eliza]! Presumptuous insect! I won it” (Shaw 50). Higgins does not give any credit for Eliza’s hard work during the party. Pickering’s behavior is equally unyielding but opposite that of Higgins. The main difference between Higgins and Pickering is in the way they view Eliza as a human being. Pickering never considered Eliza as an object of intellectual property: “[Pickering’s] calling [Eliza] Miss Doolittle that day when [Eliza] first came to Wimpole Street. That was the beginning of self-respect for [Eliza]” (Shaw 63). In this way, the major change of Eliza’s dialect is a minor detail in the determination of castes. Social class results from separate intellectual property between groups of people. When this intellectual property is transferred from one group to another, the barrier between castes is demolished.
In Brecht’s Galileo, Galileo Galilei plays a significant role as a massive proponent of progressive idealism. However, a change in ideals would upset the balance between the behavior of the proletariat and the expectations of their behavior, “[for] independent spirit spreads like foul diseases. People must keep their place, some down and some on top!” (Brecht 100). The Church, as well as many aristocrats, attempt to suppress Galileo to maintain this balance between the upper and lower class and to prevent “independent spirit” (Brecht 100). As the inventor of intellectual property, Galileo believes that he is responsible for relaying the truth to the common people. However, his authority is minuscule in comparison to that of the church and state, so eventually his invention is perceived as fallacious....

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