Pygmalion: Personal Response

Through George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, we see a world represented by different English accents as a social barrier between the elite and society’s dregs. Eliza Doolittle is a poor flower-girl who wishes to behave like a lady to make her life somewhat better.  Henry Higgins thought this would be an excellent opportunity to train her to improve her grammar, gestures, and appearance. Just some work and effort would make her one of the elites in London.

Once Eliza was ready to change her appearance, it was surprising how shocked she was looking at herself; many others like her did not care about their accent or actions as long as they made enough money to support themselves. However, I don’t particularly appreciate how Higgins treats Eliza; she is a person with emotions; he should put aside his ego and be kind and behave like a gentleman, but instead treats the lower class like his objects. It is startling how he is trying to change Eliza to become a lady, but he is an arrogant bachelor instead of a kind gentleman. I found the play humourous, mainly when Higgins referred to Eliza with numerous names, specifically a “squashed cabbage leaf.” It was humourous yet quite disrespectful.

London’s citizens had established different social classes; everyone worldwide has different inflections and pronunciations, which is not bad. One of the reasons I felt what Eliza feels is because I am also someone from many other places with several accents, so I understand how difficult it is to speak in a different accent and try to fit into society. I found some parts of the play quite relatable to the Asian community. Such as when Higgins would make Eliza study until late at night, even though she was practically crying, saying she couldn’t do it anymore, he still didn’t let her give up. Higgins was not rude in this situation but simply trying to educate Eliza as she requested to become more ladylike.

I tried to connect this play to my daily life, and I realized, even though Higgins is portrayed as an arrogant bachelor, I like his character the most. He doesn’t beat around the bush, and I find my words quite similar to his. “Have a little cry, and say your prayers, and that’ll make you comfortable.” Eliza was ungrateful after all that Higgins has done for her; he said this phrase because most people cry or pray when they are upset or angry.  He did not appreciate her much; he treated her like a flower girl and not a lady. Mrs. Higgins and Mr. Pickering express that women need to be appreciated from time to time; every woman deserves to be treated like a lady regardless of socioeconomic class. Everyone must be treated kindly, regardless of gender, race, or social class.

I think what happens to Eliza after Higgins’ work is not his responsibility. She is an adult woman capable of making her own decisions and taking responsibility for her own life. I want to describe society as a mould, which requires everyone to behave a sure way to be accepted and fit in. It’s okay to be different; that’s what makes us unique; it is not wise to pressure ourselves to fit into a society filled with people judging us.

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