Criticism Of Sexism In Pygmalion

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Should there or should there not be a social class system? That is the question at hand in George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, even though Shaw does not directly state this question nor the answer to this question in the play’s five acts. It is blatantly made clear, though, that one of Shaw’s prime goals was to influence society to question itself for what it had built for a society. Shaw himself states:
I am, and have always been, and shall now always be, a revolutionary writer, because our laws make law impossible; our liberties destroy all freedom; our property is organized robbery; our morality is an impudent hypocrisy; our wisdom is administered by inexperienced or malexperienced dupes, our power wielded by cowards and weaklings, and
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During the setting and the publication of Pygmalion in 1912, sexism was slowly in decline; however, just the idea of sexism existing in the first place was what prompted Shaw to criticize all of society in his play Pygmalion. And it is quite clear that he was calling “attention to questions of femininity and gender” because of how “the title of Shaw’s play is taken from the myth of Pygmalion” (LitChart Sited). Similarly, in both the play and the myth, the protagonist is seen creating their own “perfect” ideas of what a woman is and how a woman should act (LitChart). In Shaw’s doing so of this, he is trying to show society how “unrealistic and even unnatural the expectations that society has for women are” (LitCharts). Additionally, society’s expectations are mirrored by Higgins’s expectations of what the ideal woman should be like, which is quite disturbing considering Higgins is anti-feminist. In the play, Higgins goes out of his way to exclaim, “I find that the moment I let a woman make friends with me, she becomes jealous, exacting, suspicious, and a damned nuisance. I find that the moment I let myself make friends with a woman, I become selfish and tyrannical. Women upset everything” (Small book Page 48) So, at this point, it is plausible to question how a man who is against women can be the man who dictates how the “complete” woman should…show more content…
Shaw also questions “the desirability of a high social class” in life through Eliza’s father, Mr. Doolittle (LitCharts). However, Shaw does not accomplish this through what Mr. Doolittle says, but rather through how Mr. Doolittle gives his speech on the criticism of society. During Mr. Doolittle’s speech, he hilariously and frustratingly “laments all the anxieties and troubles that his new wealth brings with it” (LitChart) In doing so, Mr. Doolittle was trying to indicate how he missed his conventional, humbler way of life, even though his old way of life was undesirable to most people. By establishing this, though, Shaw was inducing the idea that upper-class society was undesirable; however, Shaw also made it seem like lower-class society was not desirable either earlier on in the play with the description of how Mr. Doolittle used to live prior to becoming wealthy. So, what was Shaw attempting to get across to his readers? Comprehensively, Shaw was simply influencing the audience to think about a world with desirable social classes. Or more precisely, Shaw was arguing for Marxism, a society with economic equality. In John Bull’s Other Island, another play written by Shaw, one of the characters state:
In my dreams [Heaven] is a country where the State is the Church and the Church is the people: three in one and one in three. It is a commonwealth in which work is play and play is life: three in one and one
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