Gender Inequality In Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion

1300 Words6 Pages
All throughout history, men and women have always had different roles in society. Today, gender inequality is still a huge issue. It has taken years of demonstrating for women to finally achieve the right to vote. Bernard Shaw, the author of ‘Pygmalion’, pays special attention to the position of women in society in Pygmalion. He portrays women as strong-willed and independent. Pygmalion in set in the 1910s, when women were not allowed to vote, own property or even work outside the home if they were married. Women stayed at home to do chores, but more and more discussions about gender inequality took place. ‘Cheese’ by Willem Elsschot was written twenty years later, in 1933. By now, women had obtained the right to vote, however,
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By naming his play after this myth, Shaw sets expectations of what the role of women will be in his play. Higgins and Pickering ‘create’ the perfect woman out of Eliza, a empty-handed flower girl who has to learn how to behave and talk like an upperclass lady. Eliza tries hard to become the girl Higgins and Pickering want her to be and succeeds in making other higher class women believe she belongs in that class, but in the end, Eliza can’t stand her new position in society and realizes she will never fit in. Bernard Shaw offers Eliza three options in the end of the play. Her future can only be decided by a man, forasmuch as she has to choose to either go back to living with her father, to continue living with Higgins, or to marry Freddy. Eliza tells Higgins she desires independence, but never attains it. Ultimately, Eliza’s psyche never fit with the woman Higgins sculpted her to be. In Willem Elsschot’s Cheese, women are much more insignificant than in Pygmalion. In the entirety of Cheese not even a handful of women are named, most importantly being Laarmans’ wife and his deceased mother. Laarmans’ wife Fine is the typical housewife of their time. Although women had just obtained the right to vote, housewifes were still expected to take care of the kids and the household, and not to interfere with their partner’s business. Laarmans feels that he is superior to Fine and expects her just to take care of him. He is quoted saying ‘Let me say that I have an excellent wife, who is, moreover, an exemplary mother.’ Laarmans marriage doesn’t seem to be on terms of love, since he even compares Fine to a mother. He shows little to no respect for his wife, and doesn’t thank her when she tries to give him advice. Fine knows her place in society as a housewife and stays in her lane for the majority of the book. Nevertheless, in some slight
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