?Class Distinctions in Pygmalion
Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw, is a thrilling drama
in which a scientist of phonetics tries to transform a
cockney speaking Covent Garden flower girl into a woman as
poised and well-spoken as a duchess. The play considers
some of the illusions of the class distinctions. This is
represented by the characters, their situations, and their
Eliza Doolittle starts out as a sassy, smart-mouthed
flower girl with disgraceful English. See goes to see
Professor Higgins to see if he will teach her to speak
properly and act more like a lady. This also would require
her to become a high-classed member of society.
I want to be a lady in a flower shop stead of sellin at
the corner of Tottenham Court Road. But they wont take
me unless I can talk more genteel. He said he could
teach me. Well, here I am ready to pay himnot asking
any favorand he treats me zif I was dirt. (1160)
That was the flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, talking to
Colonel Pickering about how she want to become a lady and
how Mr. Higgins refused to help her because she belongs to
the lower-classed section of society. Later she finally
convinces Mr. Higgins to help her, but to him she is just an
Mr. Higgins is a high-classed professor of phonetics.
He believes in concepts like visible speech, and used all
manners of recording and photographic material to document
his phonetic subjects. This reduces people and their
dialects into what he sees as easily understandable units.
However, he is also a very eccentric man. He goes in the
opposite direction from the rest of society for most
matters. He is also very impatient with high society, even
though he is a member of it. But even more then the high
society, he treats the lower end of society with even less
respect. Pickering: shall we ask this baggage to sit down,
or shall we throw her out of the window (1160). That was
Mr. Higgins talking to Colonel Pickering about Eliza
Doolittle. He talks to her with attitude and continuously
makes rude comments just like that one towards her. He acts
very rudely towards her because he feels that she is just an
experiment of phonetics and sometimes he shows that he
Eliza Doolittle and Mr. Higgins are in a situation.
Eliza wants to become a lady and Mr. Higgins is trying to
turn her into one. In order for Higgins to transform Eliza
into a lady he must teach her to speak and act properly.
They accomplish this after a couple months, but something
still wasnt right. She still had that low class attitude
and it was noticeable. In order for her to become a real
lady, she had to become a member of high society.
Playing! The hardest job I ever tackled: make no
mistake about that, mother. But you have no idea how
frightfully interesting it is to take a human being and
change her into a quite different human being by
creating a new speech for her. Its filling up the
deepest gulf that separates class from class and soul
That was Mr. Higgins talking to his mom. What he meant by
saying that was that teaching her to speak properly would
end the difference between the classes. However, he also
has a long while until she is finally and completely a lady.
This play also has lots of aphoristic comments. These
are short, pointed sentences expressing a wise or clever
Would the world ever have been made if its maker had
been afraid of making trouble? Making life means making
trouble. Theres only one way of escaping trouble; and
thats killing things. Cowards, you notice, are always
shrieking to have troublesome people killed (1199).
That was Mrs. Higgins talking to Liza. This comment that
she made was definitely an aphorism. This is because she
was making a wise observation on trouble in life. She is
saying that all parts of life including all social classes
have some trouble in them, but that is what makes it life.
Without trouble life would be boring and pointless.
The fact that Pygmalion contains illusions of class
distinctions is clearly shown through the characters, their
situations, and their aphoristic comments. In Elizas quest
to become a lady she had to deal with many social class
problems, however, she overcomes them with the help of Hr.
Higgins and becomes a high class lady.