Thursday, November 29, 2012
Pygmalion: 100% Complete
I had a dream last night that I discovered I had been misspelling Pygmalion in all my blog posts and I woke up in a cold sweat. But, rest assured, I have been spelling it correctly.
In other news, I finished it! I've finished three books now, only ninety-seven to go!
I really liked this play. It was short and easy to read and often funny but it also certainly had a deeper meaning. The point I think Shaw was trying to make was that women are not objects to be treated as a possession, but they are people to care about and love and if you don't do that, you're a misogynistic jerk. The philosophy of a woman as an object was voiced by both Henry Higgins and Eliza's father, Mr. Doolittle at various points throughout the play. Neither Higgins nor Mr. Doolittle were sympathetic characters and thus their opinions are opposite the point that Shaw was trying to get across.
I have three quotes from the play that illustrate this attitude toward women. The first is something Mr. Doolittle says to Henry Higgins at the beginning when Higgins first "adopts" Eliza.
"Take my advice, Governor: marry Eliza while she's young and don't know no better. If you don't you'll be sorry for it after. If you do, she'll be sorry for it after; but better you than her, because you're a man, and she's only a woman and don't know how to be happy anyhow."
The second quote is from Henry talking to Eliza during an argument they're having once she has transformed into a "duchess":
"You've had a thousand times as much out of me as I have out of you; and if you dare to set up your little dog's tricks of fetching and carrying slippers against my creation of a Duchess Eliza, I'll slam the door in your silly face."
And finally, the last line in the book, from Shaw's epilogue to the play. To understand this, you have to know that Galatea was the name of the statue that Pygmalion created and subsequently fell in love with.
"Galatea never does quite like Pygmalion: his relation to her is too godlike to be altogether agreeable."
Next up? Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope.