Brit Soc & Lit 2: Blog Post 1 (Pygmalion)

Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw (1913)

Blog posts and presentations due: Wednesday, September 27

  • Group 1: Who ‘wins’ at the end of the play– Higgins or Eliza? Has Higgins succeeded, and has Eliza really changed?
  • Group 2: Does Higgins really think of Eliza as an ‘object’?– From the start of the experiment till the end of the play?

Write a post here of two paragraphs (about 200 words) discussing one of these questions; or make your post a reply to someone else’s post.

Your presentation must present an opinion or argument; it cannot just summarize the story. You must e-mail or speak to me before your presentation to have it approved.

  1. What is Higgins’s relationship to his mother? Does it affect the play’s story?
  2. Do you think that Higgins and Eliza should have married? Why or why not?
  3. Who deserves the most credit for Eliza’s change into a lady– Higgins, or Eliza herself?
  4. Do you side with Higgins or Eliza at the end? Is Eliza ungrateful, or is she right to feel used by the men as a sort of guinea pig?
  5. Is Higgins a good man, or a snob, or just a bit out of touch?
  6. Shaw strongly did not want the play to have a happy ending where Higgins and Eliza get married. Why might he have done this?
  7. Why is Eliza’s father in the play? What does he represent?
  8. Is class something people are born or raised with, or is Higgins correct that it’s just an act?
  9. Why is the play called Pygmalion when the ‘sculptor’ does not fall in love with the statue?

15 thoughts on “Brit Soc & Lit 2: Blog Post 1 (Pygmalion)

  1. Minji Kim

    5. Is Higgins a good man, or a snob, or just a bit out of touch?
    Other than to defy his personality as good or bad, I felt like Higgins is an unloved pity child. As we don’t say ‘what a devil child’ to children, I couldn’t judge his personality as good or bad. He speaks duchess words but the inside of the words I couldn’t find manner. The reason I think of him as immature kid is because he doesn’t seem to have a normal family life. His father hasn’t been mentioned and his mother doesn’t seem to have affection toward her son. As Higgins mentioned at the play, he says ‘Pickering treats everybody like lady but I treat everybody like a flower girl’. This indicates how he is unskilled at treating others because only thing he got taught by his family is how to talk but not how to deal with people. But even so, I could feel his love toward Liza when he saw madness toward Liza saying running away or getting hurt when Liza says ‘I’m only an experimental tool to you’. I strongly believe his cold attitude was not his sincere mind. He just doesn’t know how to express his real feeling, like Liza once didn’t know how to talk politely. At the end, Liza eventually chose Freddy and his mother got disappointed to his son. So I feel Higgins is a poor child who lost everything.

  2. Ki JI Yeon

    2.Do you think that Higgins and Eliza should have married? Why or why not?
    I think they should have married. I have 2 reasons for that. Firstly, the title of this play is ‘pygmalion’ which is came from Greek mythology. According to Greek mythology, main chacracter ‘Pygmalion’ made a sculpture and he fell in love with the sculpture he made. Like this story, this book should have had happy ending because he used the name of Pygmalion as a title and it was motive for his book.
    I think he may wanted to have a plot twist for the readers.
    Secondly, I think there’s possibility to fall in love each other(Higgins and Eliza) in aspect of the enviroment because she changed from a girl selling flowers to a lady and they spent 6 months together in one place. I am sorry to hear that she left Higgins who taught English to her and went to another person for her love.

  3. JiYeon Kim

    (I have the error of my name, so I upload my writing again)

    2.Do you think that Higgins and Eliza should have married? Why or why not?
    I think they should have married. I have 2 reasons for that. Firstly, the title of this play is ‘pygmalion’ which is came from Greek mythology. According to Greek mythology, main chacracter ‘Pygmalion’ made a sculpture and he fell in love with the sculpture he made. Like this story, this book should have had happy ending because he used the name of Pygmalion as a title and it was motive for his book.
    I think he may wanted to have a plot twist for the readers.
    Secondly, I think there’s possibility to fall in love each other(Higgins and Eliza) in aspect of the enviroment because she changed from a girl selling flowers to a lady and they spent 6 months together in one place. I am sorry to hear that she left Higgins who taught English to her and went to another person for her love.

  4. Cho yujin

    #2.
    I do not agree that thay should have married. If they got married, the ‘Pygmalion’ could not be appreciated as great play until now. Everyone wants happy ending and expects to close the book with the pleasant state. But why always does the literature work should be ended in happy closing? By let them not fall in love, Shaw opened many ways that let readers to think what will happen next. Also, following the context, even if Eliza is capable of behaving like noble girl Higgins does not treat her preciously. Higgins is honest man that showing his thinking and emotion just throughly. In this point,there is no doubt that Higgins has affection to Eliza or possibiltiy fall in love with her.

  5. Sujung Ki

    I think Shaw wanted to criticize the way men in 1930s treated women by making the same title with the Greek mythology. In Greek mythology “Pygmalion”, the sculptor fell in love with the sculpture he made. And the sculpture is what he thinks the most perfect ideal type of woman. I think that’s why he wishes the sculpture to be her woman. In this play, Higgins makes Eliza what he thinks the most elegant and well educated woman. However, unlike myth, Eliza did not do what Higgins wanted her to do and she asserted that she is a human being too, like a man in 1930s. By showing the play’s contrasting ending with the mythology, Shaw might want to show that woman is not an object that man controls, but a person who has her own personality.
    A few days ago, I read a quote saying that your words resemble you. I think this quote is the best sentence that can explain the main theme of this play. At the beginning of the play, we can see that Eliza has some degree of her own personality through the scene that Eliza continues to insist that she is a good girl. But that’s it. At the end of the play, Eliza asserts that she has a right to choose her life and make a decision herself. And we can notice that her thought or attitude towards life and herself has changed, too. I think what made her change is the way she speaks. Shaw might want to let readers or audience know that words are very important.

  6. JongHoon Park

    3.Who deserves the most credit for Eliza’s change into a lady– Higgins, or Eliza herself?

    I think that Higgins deserves more credit for Eliza’s change into a lady than Eliza. The first reason is that whether the change will be successful or not much more depends on Higgins than Eliza because he is a professional phonetician and plays a role as a teacher of Eliza. In other words, Eliza is just a subject and Higgins is the experimenter. In addition, Eliza is so naive that she doesn’t know what the result involves and is just swayed by Higgins and Pickering. Both experts should have explained enough about what being like a duchess will really affect her in future.

    Next, being taught to speak English properly was directly related to Eliza’s goal, so she couldn’t abandon it. It is obviously manifested in the Act2. What about for Higgins? When he met Eliza in his laboratory, he didn’t know if she was good at learning language. If it was for the experiment, he could choose another girl on the street. That is, she was not that important for him at the first time. I don’t know the exact reason why he chose her, but it was evidently his selfish choice. In conclusion, I consider Higgins as the most responsible character for Eliza’s change for the two reasons above.

  7. Kim Hyo Jin

    6.
    Pygmalion is based on mythology. Its myth is the story of sculptor’s love story. A sculptor creates a beautiful creature that is his ideal type. He falls in love with the creature. So, he wants that the creature becomes a real woman. Eventually, the creature becomes a woman. The myth and this book have a common feature. The sculptor is similar with Higgins, and the creature is similar with Eliza. The most similar common feature is that Higgins makes Eliza into duchess as his ideal woman.
    But, they have a difference, too. The most different feature is the end. The myth’s ending is happy ending between main character, the sculptor and the creature. Shaw’s play is not happy ending between main character, Higgins and Eliza. I think the reason of it is Shaw has a Feminism. His timeline shows his thought. He wants to resolve a lot of social thoughts. Typically, he has a feminism. He hopes that woman becomes independent. So, he describes Eliza as independent woman not depending woman. If she is a depending woman, she will marry Higgins not Freddy. She could choose her lover because she is not belonging to Higgins. These are the reason that Shaw did not describe Higgins and Eliza get married.

  8. Sangyoon Kim

    #6. Shaw strongly didn’t want the play to have a happy ending where Higgins and Eliza get married. Why might he have done this?

    I think Shaw wrote this play on the Galatea’s side. Galatea is the woman statue made by Pygmalion in the Greek myth. Galatea and Pygmalion got married in this play, ignoring her opinion. So, Shaw wanted to say about her own feelings and right through Eliza as a feminist. He tried to show women’s lower social position and told women to make own social power. At this point, the original ending is a symbol of Shaw’s ideal assembly about women. I think that’s the reason why he didn’t want to change the ending.

    Every ending of the play is always important, because it contains a main meaning of the story. Shaw knew that and he also had a sense of responsibility as a feminism writer. Even if one of Higgins and Eliza felt love in that play, Shaw wanted to show discrimination and exploitation about gender and social gap from Eliza’s own choice at the end. So, he didn’t want to change the ending.

  9. Seong Yun Kim

    4.Do you side with Higgins or Eliza at the end? Is Eliza ungrateful, or is she right to feel used by the men as a sort of guinea pig?

    I’m actually the side of Liza. Some people can see Higgins as a man who are good inside but the way of his talking is tough and clumsy. But I think whatever the intension was and how much was his effort, his poor communication skills and tough language eventually hurt Liza’s heart. If I was her, I couldn’t bear his bad and nasty words.

    Of course Higgins is a good man as a phonologist and did her a favor a lot but not as a gentleman. I think Higgins sculpted her, and did as much as he could, but he didn’t love his sculpture and saw her as just a sculpture not a human being. I’m not going to say that she is right to feel used by a man as a sort of guniea pig. I just want to say she is pity woman at that period which the women’s right was weak, of course there were gentlemen. I think the idea has changed these days. So If I were in that time I could have said “Higgins is tough but nice guy”. But now, I’m on her side.

  10. Lee Jihyun

    3. Who deserves the most credit for Eliza’s change into a lady-Higgins, or Eliza herself?

    I think Eliza deserves the most credit for herself change into a lady than Higgins. Because she has own will to change her life and poor pronunciation. If she doesn’t want to change herself from the flower girl into a lady, then she would keep earn her living as a flower seller or drive herself on the streets. But she doesn’t want to keep her poor life. And she has a dream to be a lady in a flower shop. So she visits Higgins to ask to teach her good English. As she repeatedly says “I’m a respectable girl, I’m a good girl”, she doesn’t want to be misunderstood as a street girl and really wants to end her life.

    Of course, without Higgins, real ‘lady’ Eliza couldn’t be exist. Because things that Higgins taught to Eliza were not only the pronunciation but also the way to speak properly and the subject to speak. Those things were really helpful to be a ‘real’ lady. And it makes Higgins win his bet with Pickering. But I think they can’t make experiment without Eliza’s own will to change. Hence Eliza deserves the most credit for her change than Higgins.

  11. Choi Jinyeong

    9.
    In my view, it’s because both Pygmalion in Greek myths and Higgins in this play create what they think ‘ideal’. The beginnings are different in terms of the original existence, but it doesn’t matter to say they both perfectly make something or someone into absolutely new things. Even though Higgins doesn’t fall in love with Eliza, it is an indisputable fact that Higgins changes Eliza into a lady, which is literally a new existence, though Eliza herself tries to do so. Of course, there is a love between two as a friend or something like that.
    I believe it’s totally okay to call these stories Pygmalion whether the sculptor loves his statue or not. The important thing is who contributes statue’s change the most, not the love between them. The title probably explains the story that we can see the transition from the original to the new. Additionally I think Shaw might want to assert that a phonologist can make someone’s speaking into entirely new way just like a sculptor through the name of the story, Pygmalion and that’s why he called this play Pygmalion.

  12. Na, JongIn

    Higgins mother shows sarcastic reaction to his son from her first appearance of this play till the end. We can guess why she did it from stories. Higgins may do awkward things when he meets his mother`s friends. And there is another reason that we can guess. View of Higgins` mother and Higgins is totally different. Higgins` mother shows hew empathy to Eliza many times, because she understands Eliza`s situation and she knows her son`s character. However, Higgins is just ‘Phonologist’, who is not interested in ‘Human’, so they have so many crisis

    Then what does it affect? I think It affect to Higgins` action to Eliza, and it changed flow of story a little bit. Higgins was really cold when he first met Eliza. For example, he says “Do you have feeling?” to Eliza, and it shows he treated Eliza as an ‘object’. However, when he went to his mother`s house, he heard lots of words from his mother, and he seems to change his mind a little bit. He didn`t care Eliza`s feeling at all, but after he visited his mother, he changed a little bit sensitive to Eliza`s feeling. For example, one stage direction of Higgins is [shocked]. This is the first thing that shows Higgins has feeling, and as it is connected to Eliza`s action, so he becomes to care about Eliza`s feeling. From all those scenes, we can think that Higgins` relationship with his mother changed Higgins` attitude to Eliza, and it affected play`s story.

  13. HeeJin Lim

    2. Do you think that Higgins and Eliza should have married? Why or why not?

    I am sure that it is not. Because the start of the meeting is wrong. Think about the first meeting. What manner of attitude did the Higgins take with Eliza? Beyond rudeness, it is not treated as the same species. During the experiment, the Higgins calls Eliza as a living doll and even reaches the actual dialogue. Eliza is known for (This books) that she is a woman who wants to be respected and respected. How can they seem to be able to marry properly?

  14. HeeJin Lim

    (Because of the Internet network errors, the second paragraph is blown away. So I upload rest of the text.)

    Secondarily, Higgins is a devout pro-bachelorhood. As he told Pickering, he has expressed strong disapproval of his dependence on someone and losing his freedom. I think what he has is not love but merely a puppet play with purpose. (Unlike the emotions of Eliza.) There is too much difference between the two ideas of ideology and the surrounding environment.
    (I saw something I don’t want to know that the author George Bernard Shaw later explained that the story of Eliza and Freddie’s marriage was completely true.)

  15. Innae Chang

    6. Shaw strongly did not want the play to have a happy ending where Higgins and Eliza get married. Why might he have done this?

    First of all, I think Shaw himself knew that Higgins and Eliza was not a good match for marriage. Although they’ve shown great progress as a teacher and a student, the technique used in that progress wasn’t that nice. Higgins always yelled at Eliza, and almost always treated her as someone who is way below him. To him, Eliza is an ignorant common girl, no matter how she speaks well and dresses well, and this kind of idea isn’t suitable to someone who wants to make her as his wife. It will be hard for this couple to live a happy marriage life, since Higgins will be mean and arrogant, and Eliza will be full of anger all the time. What a disaster.
    Second, I guess Shaw thought the idea of Higgins marrying with Eliza can show the dominance of men over women. In other words, just like the old myth Pygmalion, it looks like Higgins made a creation which suits his taste, and marrying to that creation. If the story went on like this, we might have not get the idea of women’s dependence or judgement, and the play Pygmalion would have been cheesy and dull to the society’s problems like any other plays. Eliza’s image would be much more naive and dependent compared to the original play. Shaw wouldn’t have liked that at all!!

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