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Vesonder rightly observes “Even a superficial examination of Pygmalion will show that the main focus of the play is not erotic involvement but the power of language…” Even though learning English for Eliza is like learning a whole new language, this education, helps in emancipating and finding a new identity for her .
I would then argue that language doesn’t hold a connection to the gender inequality in the society. I will also be stressing the fact that as a well refined lady, Eliza faces an identity crisis and more gender inequality than she did living on the streets as a common girl. B Shaw’s comedy of purpose Pygmalion, language is seen as an effective tool of social power which imposes hierarchy on society.
Shaw believed that language causes social inclusion and exclusion and this Edwardian mannerism and prejudice finds expression in the social, educational and gender injustice of his times.
Social judgment based on linguistics is evident in the way Eliza speaks and immediately Higgins places her in a lower social position than his and considers her as an inferior.
Thus we see how Shaw critiques social discourse, nature of inequality in itself and the superficial issues of his time.
He tells her: “Woman: cease this detestable boohooing instantly; or else seek the shelter of some other place of worship….
A woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere-no right to live.
While reading Pygmalion, I was fascinated by the intricate details of language and how it affected the identity of Eliza.
Realizing that language and identity were somehow connected in Pygmalion, I dove deeper into this issue and researched the effect of language on the social identities of Eliza and Henry Higgins.
This non-standard and ungrammatical speech clearly manifests that Eliza lacks linguistic competence.
Through Eliza’s poor articulation and social grace, Bernard Shaw also tries to criticize the vulgarity of lower class language.