The Division Of Society In Pygmalion Essay

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The Division Of Society In Pygmalion Essay, Research Paper Since almost the beginning of civilisation, people have been divided into social classes. There was always an upper class; rich, powerful and in control. Then there was a middle class; less comfortably off than the upper class, and certainly less powerful, but respected nonetheless. Last of all (and usually least) the lower working class making up the majority of people, rarely having the necessities of life and never considered by other classes no matter how long or hard they worked on improving their situation. In the following essay, I will discuss whether George Bernard Shaw agreed with this distinction and division of society and how he exhibited his views through his renowned play “Pygmalion”. Throughout the

play, ladies and gentleman are continuously recognised for who they are through four factors: how they are dressed, their manners, how they speak and their money. It is however noticeable that a combination of all four factors is rarely to be found. For instance Henry Higgins, although well – dressed, well spoken and with money, has manners which could not be characterised as genteel. Alfred Doolittle (after acquiring some money) is well dressed, has some form of manners and could be classified as rich, yet is not well spoken. Nevertheless, when the maid opens the door to him she instantly percieves that he is a gentleman. So what really does make a lady or a gentleman? Many times during the play the difference between the appearance of the classes is expressed. It is

especially noticeable in the first two acts. An indication of this would be when Higgins is distinguished as a gentleman and not a detective because of the boots he is wearing. Bystander: “E’s a gentleman, look at his boots.” The bystander obviously knew what sort of clothing a gentleman would wear. This implies that it was well known what kind of boots were worn by whom, which means that the difference between the classes was so apparent that everyone was aware of the boundaries of their class. Another model for this distinction would be when Alfred Doolittle arrives at Wimpole St, in the second act, and doesn’t even recognise his own daughter, Eliza, just because she has been washed and elegantly dressed. Alfred: Beg Pardon, miss. Eliza: Garn! Don’t you know your own

daughter? Alfred: Bly me! Its Eliza. This demonstrates that the working class were not used to washing and dressing up, which was customary for the upper class. The dissimilarity in the appearance of the upper class from the working class was so sensational that even someone who was your own flesh and blood could be naturally mistaken. This trend of depicting appearances goes right through to the end of the play, when on arrival at Mrs Higgins’ house, Doolittle is mistaken for a gentleman by the maid, merely because of the way he is dressed Higgins: Doolittle! Do you mean a dustman? Maid: Dustman! Oh no sir, a gentleman. The appearance of Doolittle is taken into main consideration when it comes to deciding what class he belongs to. The question is the raised, what separates the

classes really, if clothing can do so much for how someone is perceived. Apart from the way people dress, they are also defined by the way they speak. In Pygmalion the way people converse is a very important part of the play, not least because the structure of it is based on the fact that Eliza can’t speak “properly” and Higgins can teach he how. It was obviously considerably important to speak well at that time, which is emphasised by Shaw over and over again. The play even starts with Higgins criticising the way that Eliza speaks, because it is not only up to standard compared to “proper” English it will also resultantly keep her in the gutter for the rest of her days. He expresses that he could teach even someone with such dreadful pronunciation within 3 – 6