Monday, 14 January 2013

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (4/5)

GoodReads says: Written in 1912, Pygmalion quickly became a legend in its own time. The characters, situations, and dialogue George Bernard Shaw supplies are rich, ebullient, and unmatched in wit, as the infamous Henry Higgins prepares to "make a duchess of this draggletailed guttersnipe."

Thus begins this classic tale as Shaw pokes fun at smugness and priggish conventionality. Who can forget either professor Henry Higgins with his passionate interest in the science of phonetics and the improvement of British speech, or of course, poor Eliza Doolittle, who is one of the great heroines of the 20th century?

Get ready to enjoy the greatest Shaw romp of them all as Higgins prepares to transform a common flower girl into a creature "the king of England would accept as royalty."

I say: I have read so many quotes from this play in my life that it’s really quite embarrassing that I have never actually read it until now. I even used to go around sarcastically whining:
“I’m a good girl, I am.”

So yeah, it was a joy reading this up until the final act when things got all emotional and preachy. The play does what it says on the tin; Higgins and his friend Pickering decide to turn poor Eliza into a lady in six months, and we follow them through their ups and downs. What I most love about Shaw is his sharp wit and genius way with words. The dialogue is often very fast and Higgins’ insults keep hitting everyone around him like pellets.
Mrs. Pearce: Don’t cry you silly girl. Sit down. Nobody is going to touch you.
Higgins: Somebody is going to touch you, with a broomstick, if you don’t stop sniveling.

But Higgins also had a lot of sage advice to give – even if he did it in the rudest manner possible. However, I love this type of humour and was laughing out loud throughout the play. Needless to say, my favourite character was Higgins and the most annoying character was Eliza. I found her manner to be so coarse and her pride so foolish it was grating. I can see how people would see her as a heroine, but to me she mere came across as a silly and ungrateful brat.
I long to see this on stage.

1 comment:

  1. I would love, love, love to see Pygmalion on stage too!