Personal Response – Pygmalion

Prior to the introduction of, Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw, we were given an introduction through a handout, introducing the characters and the theme of the book. The introduction helps us ease into a mindset to explore the topic which the play addresses. The theme is the societal expectations and gender roles at its time (19th century). The theme is the contrast between social classes and the distinctions based on accent, manners, and education.

 

When I went through the play, I felt a strange sense of comradery with the three protagonists, Higgins, Pickering, and Eliza. Higgins struggles with feeling like an outsider due to being different from the “norm”, which can lead to loneliness. Pickering has a respectful manner of speech towards everyone, even those of the lower class. While Eliza’s strict upbringing also resonates with me. I feel a strong connection with Eliza in particular, as she is constantly pushed by Higgins, but never receives any recognition for her hard work. Instead, Higgins uses her accomplishments to brag to others, including his mother. I can relate to this experience, and so can many of the people I know who had a strict upbringing focused on achieving certain talents or skills, yet never being given proper credit for the hard work put into developing them.

 

The similarity between my experiences and the characters made me realize the striking similarity between our two distant societies. Many of the issues they face are still prevalent in society today, albeit in different forms. For example, the feeling of being an outsider due to being different from the “norm” is still a challenge faced by many individuals today. Additionally, the emphasis placed on achieving certain talents or skills for the sake of social status or recognition is still a common theme in our society. While the specifics of these struggles may have changed over time, the underlying issues remain the same.