Social Class

Pygmalion - Social Class
Pygmalion Final – Topic 1
The play “Pygmalion” directly targets the subject of social class.   Shaw presents clear boundaries between the different positions in society.   Professor Henry Higgins is evidently a member of the upper class.   He is an obsessive professor of phonetics, and is rather wealthy.   He is a very unconventional and pompous man, Professor Higgins knows nothing but his own work; he lacks compassion for other beings.   Colonel Pickering, an associate of Professor Higgins’s, is also a part of the upper class; however, he has quite the opposite personality.   Pickering also has a passion for phonetics, although he is not as infatuated upon it.   He shows much kindness and presents himself as a gentleman.   Both these men are involved in Eliza’s dramatic transformation.
Eliza Doolittle is a young flower girl of about nineteen years of age.   She is unquestionably a part of the lower class.   She comes from a very low, underprivileged family.   Her father, Alfred Doolittle, is an ignorant, drunken old dustman.   He has had at the very least, six different wives.   They are a broken family at the very bottom of the social pyramid.   A bet was made by Professor Higgins that he could transform a dirty, impudent flower girl with horrendous use of the English language into a genuine lady; as poised as a duchess.   He must teach her to speak English so that her speech is flawless; she must be able to convince the high society of London that she is of prominent status.
During the time period of her instruction, Eliza lodges at the home of the Professor.   Higgins proves himself to be a very tactless and insensitive host as well as teacher.   He constantly taunts Eliza and makes merciless fun of her.   Readers are under the impression that Higgins considers his students as merely ‘experiments’.   He does not treat them as though they are capable of any feeling at all.   He uses these students to satisfy his own obsession with...