Books and Movies Reviews


To what extent is Eliza's femininity highlighted? And is the feminine embodied in different ways by female characters of varying ages and belonging to different classes?
George Bernard Shaw's comedy was originally written in 1912 and follows the story of Eliza Doolittle. Eliza is a common flower girl from London, she is on a journey of transformation through to seeking acceptance into middle class society of the early twentieth century. The play is entertaining by its constant battle of the sexes, the two main characters are always bickering and trying to gain the upper hand. Eliza is trying to obtain feminine identity and sexual equality, whilst the other main character Prof Higgins is a picture of masculinity and male dominance. This tension grows throughout the play, right from the initial meeting of the two ,through to the finale.
In act onewe are introduced to Eliza, she is selling flowers in London and meets Prof Higgins. She is portrayed to be extremely common with no manners and no education. She is preoccupied with her character and worried about Higgins making notes about her. In the early twentieth century women from the lower classes without education were faced with the problem of prostitution, crime and no career prospects.(block5 P37). Next the scene moves on to Mr. Higgins's apartment, this is where the deal is made to turn Eliza into a lady and obtain her acceptance by other members of society.
The characterization of Eliza in "Pygmalion" is that of a common girl who is extremely naive, simple and sometimes ignorant. Her behaviour is the result of a poor upbringing and the lack of a proper education. However Higgins character is very dominant throughout the play. He constantly bullies Eliza and refers to her as "squashed cabbage leaves" and as a "damned impudent slut". (Resource Book 3 P92). He carries on throughout to treat Eliza as an animal without feelings