ENGB30 Lecture Notes - George Bernard Shaw, The Flower Girl, Scullery Maid

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20 Nov 2012
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Shaw- Pygmalion
George Bernard Shaw(1856-1950)
Irish playwright
Active from late-Victorian period to mid-20th-century
Co-founder of the London School of Economics
Strong socialist tendencies
Question
What exactly is being “made” or “created” in Shaw’s play?
A ‘proper’ lady
Higgins: “I shall make a duchess of this draggletailed guttersnipw.” (…)
Pygmalion as A Tale of Creation
The stages of Eliza’s progress
o The flower girl (Bathtaking scene; 35-36)
o The in-between stage ( Mrs. Higgin’s at-home; 59-61)
Mrs Higgin’s summary of the situation (64)
o The duchess /lady (71-72)
Eliza expected to be taken to the scullery (kitchen area)
The “making” of Eliza
o “you have no idea how frightfully interesting it is to take a human
being and change her into a quite different human being by
creating a new speech for her.” (65)
o “I tell you I have created this thing out of the squashed cabbage
leaves of Covent Garden.” (94)
o “The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she
behaves, but how she is treated.” (94-95)
o “I said I’d make a woman of you; and I have. “ (104)
she is ignorant of how things works
o ex. an urban myth of taking a bath everyday will kill you
o Mrs. Higgins has to explain to Eliza simple things and explain that
a “lady” should be clean and must take baths
o Eliza doesn’t know how to properly address Mrs. Higgins
Eliza wants to become a lady
“I can’t turn your soul on.”
“remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of
articulate speech…” (18)
“I’m worn out, thinking about her, and watching her lips and her teeth
and her tongue, not to mention her soul, which is the quaintest of the lot.”
(65)
o talking to his mother of how much work it is to turn Eliza into a
lady
“I can’t turn your soul on…” (99-100)
Mr. Higgins is very mean and cruel when teaching her English
“You don’t think sir”
Mrs. Pearce
o “what is to become of her when you’ve finished your teching? You
must look ahead a little.” (32)
o “you don’t mean her any harm; but when youget what you call
interested in people’s accents, you never think or care what may
happen to them or you.” (34)
Mrs. Higgins
o “you two infinitely stupid male creatures…” (66-67)
Eliza
o “why didn’t you leave me where you picked me out of- in the
gutter?” (76-77;78)
o “You never thought of the trouble it would make for me.” (101)
how do Higgins and Pickering respond to her protest ?
says that she is worrying about “nothing”
Relationship between Higgins and Eliza
First blowup (slipper-throwing scene)
o “You don’t care. I know you don’t care.” (76)
o “There can’t be any feelings between the like of you and the like of
me. “(79-80)
o “Damn my own folly in having lavished my hard-earned
knowledge and the treasure of my regard and intimacy on a
heartless guttersnipe.” (80)
Second blowup
o “I won’t be passed over.” “Then get out of my way; for I won’t stop
for you.” (99)
o “I won’t care for anybody that doesn’t care for me.” (100)
o “Perhaps I could make something of him.” (102)
o “I want a little kindness. “ (102-103)
o “You can’t take away the knowledge you gave me.” (104)
like a child who would get really upset if the parent did not notice their
achievement
she is trying to establish what is considered “hers” and what is “theirs”
o
Narrator’s Summary in Sequel
“Eliza’s in