George Bernard Shaw: Pygmalion

(2107 words)

“Draggletailed guttersnipe” and “bilious pigeon” are only two of many insults that Professor Higgins directs at Eliza Dolittle in George Bernard Shaw's play, Pygmalion (1916). Eliza retorts, “I won't be passed over”; Higgins retaliates, “You talk about me as if I were a motor bus” (p.99). Although funny and quick-witted, this reply nevertheless suggests an image of Eliza's crushed body. These exchanges between Henry Higgins, a Professor of Phonetics, and Eliza, a Covent Garden flower girl, encapsulate the main themes of Shaw's Pygmalion. First staged in London in 1914, it questioned the assumptions of middle- and upper-class theatregoers that the English class system was on firm foundations and that …

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Scullion, Val. "Pygmalion". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 May 2005
[, accessed 04 July 2015.]