Essay

In George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion the use of dialogue, character, and setting are used to show how a person can be totally changed for the better, or for the worse, due to the right teaching and surroundings.

The use of dialogue within Pygmalion is one of the key factors within the play. From the beginning of the play the whole course of conflict is started due to Liza Doolittle’s speech. Without her terrible speech there would be no story. The same goes for Higgins, if he hadn’t had been so interested in language no course of action would have been taken. Shaw shows with the dialogue of Higgins that he isn’t 100% qualified to teach Liza, due to his frequent cursing. But through dialogue we see the significant change within Liza, showing her transformation.

 Through characterization Shaw shows the audience the different people of European society and how some are more suitable than others. Most of the characters in the play are characterized the same, such as Pickering and Mrs. Higgins. They are said to be very mannerly and are certainly projected to be. Higgins is of that sort too, but he is also part barbaric like Liza. He is gentlemanly at some points, but at others he is just as bad as Liza! His frequent cursing leaves an impression on her, and it is ironic that he should even be teaching her. Through characterization of Higgins Shaw reveals how his absent minded teaching pointed Liza’s transformation down a wrong path.

This play is set in the early 1900’s in London, England. Through this setting Shaw portrays the many elements of British society, and society’s thoughts on learning. Shaw’s setting is key to the theme of the play. Through the setting of Higgins’ household Liza is able to be properly nurtured and taught better than her previous setting of the London streets. Shaw shows that it is not nature, but setting that can transform a person.

Within his play Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw uses dialogue, characterization, and setting to show that a person can be transformed not matter their past, but they must be properly led in the right direction, as well as be in the right setting.

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