Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw and Satire An Overview of the History, Literature and Styles
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW <ul><li>born in Dublin, Ireland in 1856 </li></ul><ul><li>In 1876, Shaw, moved to London </li></ul><ul><li>With his background in economics and politics, Shaw's socialist viewpoint gave his writing a sense of hope for human improvement. </li></ul>
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW <ul><li>After the turn of the century, Shaw's plays gradually began to achieve production and, eventually, acceptance in England </li></ul><ul><li>Shaw received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1925 </li></ul><ul><li>In 1950, Shaw fell off a ladder while trimming a tree on his property outside of London, and died a few days later of complications from the injury, at age 94 </li></ul>
SHAW INFLUENCES <ul><li>Shaw first worked as an art critic, then music critic, and finally, from 1895 to 1898, as Theatre Critic for the Saturday Review . </li></ul><ul><li>founded the Fabian Society, a socialist political organization dedicated to transforming Britain into a socialist state through education. </li></ul><ul><li>The Fabian society would later be instrumental in founding the London School of Economics and the Labor Party. </li></ul>
SHAW INFLUENCES <ul><li>The outbreak of war in 1914 changed Shaw's life. For Shaw, the war represented the bankruptcy of the capitalist system and a tragic waste of young lives, all under the guise of patriotism. </li></ul><ul><li>He expressed his opinions in a series of newspaper articles which proved to be a disaster for Shaw's public stature: he was treated as an outcast, and there was even talk of his being tried for treason. </li></ul>
PYGMALION – THE MYTH <ul><li>Pygmalion was a sculptor from Cyprus who had no interest in the local women. He found them immoral and frivolous. Instead, he concentrated on his art until one day he ran across a large, flawless piece of ivory and decided to carve a beautiful woman from it. </li></ul><ul><li>When he had finished the statue, Pygmalion found it so lovely and the image of his ideal woman that he clothed the figure and adorned her in jewels. He gave the statue a name: Galatea, sleeping love. </li></ul><ul><li>He found himself obsessed with his ideal woman so he went to the temple of Aphrodite to beg for a wife as perfect as his statue. </li></ul>
PYGMALION – THE MYTH <ul><li>Aphrodite was curious so she visited the studio of the sculptor while he was away and was charmed by his creation. Galatea was the image of herself. </li></ul><ul><li>Flattered, Aphrodite brought the statue to life. </li></ul><ul><li>When Pygmalion returned, he found Galatea alive, and humbled himself at her feet. Pygmalion and Galatea were wed. </li></ul>
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE PLAY <ul><li>World War I </li></ul><ul><li>Queen Victoria characterized the times with a set of values called Victorianism which revolved around: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>"social high-mindedness, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>domesticity, and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a confidence in the expansion of knowledge and the power of reasoned argument to change society." </li></ul></ul>
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE PLAY <ul><li>During the 19th century, many more Englishmen could vote. </li></ul><ul><li>This also brought the introduction of women's suffragette organizations. </li></ul><ul><li>Increased political participation further prompted a shift in gender roles. </li></ul><ul><li>The new woman - increasing numbers of women in the work force, as well as reforms to divorce laws and other impacts upon domestic life. </li></ul>
PYGMALION – THEMES <ul><li>Language – Nature of it, connection to perception of the speaker, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Social Roles – are they innate; can they be taught? </li></ul><ul><li>Human Evolution – Fixed or ever-changing? </li></ul><ul><li>Manners – Important or Ridiculous? </li></ul>
PYGMALION – THEMES <ul><li>Roles of the Sexes – What does it mean to be a “lady” of society? A “gentleman” of society? </li></ul><ul><li>Class Distinctions – What purpose do they serve? How are they maintained? </li></ul><ul><li>Personal Identity – Is one what society perceives one to be or something controlled by the self? </li></ul><ul><li>Idealism – What drives human acts? </li></ul>
PYGMALION – BASIC PLOT <ul><li>P ygmalion is a comedy about a phonetics expert (Henry Higgins) who, as a kind of social experiment, attempts to make a lady out of an uneducated Cockney flower girl (Eliza Doolittle). </li></ul><ul><li>Pygmalion probes important questions about social class, human behavior, and relations between the sexes. </li></ul>
PYGMALION – CHARACTERS <ul><li>Henry Higgins - a phonetics expert and a scientist who loves anything that can be studied as a scientific subject. His enthusiasm for the study masks his human qualities. </li></ul><ul><li>Eliza Doolittle - an uneducated, streetwise Cockney flower girl. Her intelligence allows her to recognize her self-worth and the worth of others. </li></ul><ul><li>Alfred Doolittle - Eliza's father, "an elderly but vigorous dustman..." who can borrow money from his most miserly friends. Doolittle describes himself as "the undeserving poor". </li></ul><ul><li>Mrs. Higgins - Henry Higgins's mother, kind, sympathetic, understands those she encounters well. She is the gracious lady of the house. </li></ul>
PYGMALION – CHARACTERS <ul><li>Frederick Eynsford Hill - Eliza Doolittle's young suitor from the upper class. Freddy shows complete devotion throughout the play. </li></ul><ul><li>Miss Clara Eynsford Hill - sister of Freddy, very comfortable in society, though without the wealth to actually support the lifestyle. </li></ul><ul><li>Mrs. Eynsford Hill - mother of Freddy and Clara, very socially conscious and interested in those people her children associate with. </li></ul>
PYGMALION – CHARACTERS <ul><li>Nepommuck - Henry Higgins's first language student, adept in several languages. </li></ul><ul><li>Mrs. Pearce – Henry Higgins housekeeper, a practical, proud woman. Mrs. Pearce is not afraid of Henry, but conscious of her middle class status. </li></ul><ul><li>Colonel Pickering - An acquaintance of Higgins who has lived in the British Colonies in India and become very adept at the Indian dialects. Pickering becomes the caring, kind voice in Higgins scientific experiment. He views Eliza Doolittle as a person worthy of respect. </li></ul>
SATIRE <ul><li>Satire defined : A writing designed to make readers criticize themselves, society, human foolishness and weakness, human vices and crimes, or anything the writer is dissatisfied about in general. </li></ul>
<ul><li>1. Satires do not offer suggestions, they simply point out what is wrong with society and people. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Satires expose errors and conditions society no longer notices because we have grown to accept them or ignore them. </li></ul>ELEMENTS OF SATIRE
ELEMENTS OF SATIRE <ul><li>SATIRE IS PERSUASIVE WRITING AND USES THE FOLLOWING APPEALS: </li></ul><ul><li>Logical Appeals – Supporting a position with evidence, facts or statistics. </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional Appeals – Using words that create strong feelings in the reader. </li></ul><ul><li>Ethical Appeals – A text that establishes the writer as sincere and qualified to make such remarks. </li></ul>
SATIRICAL TECHNIQUES : <ul><li>1. EXAGGERATION – To make a person’s </li></ul><ul><li>vices or beliefs seem ridiculous and </li></ul><ul><li>unattractive, satirists will exaggerate, often </li></ul><ul><li>to the point of hyperbole. </li></ul><ul><li>2. UNDERSTATEMENT – Making shocking </li></ul><ul><li>Statements seem casual to emphasize how </li></ul><ul><li>common the practice has become. </li></ul>
SATIRICAL TECHNIQUES : 3. IRONY – Satirists use four types: a. VERBAL IRONY – Sarcasm b. SITUATIONAL IRONY – A contrast between what is expected and what actually happens. c. DRAMATIC IRONY – Contrast between what a character and what the reader knows. D. Cosmic irony - it seems that God or fate is manipulating events so as to inspire false hopes, which are inevitably dashed.
SATIRICAL TECHNIQUES : 4. INVECTIVE: describes very abusive, usually nonironical language aimed at a particular target (e.g., a string of curses or name calling). Invective can often be quite funny, but it is the least inventive of the satirist's tools. A lengthy invective is sometimes called a diatribe. The danger of pure invective is that one can quickly get tired of it, since it offers limited opportunity for inventive wit.
SATIRICAL TECHNIQUES : 5. Caricature: Exaggerating for comic and satiric effect one particular feature of the target, to achieve a grotesque or ridiculous effect. Refers more to drawing than it does to writing (e.g., the political cartoon). 6. Burlesque: Ridiculous exaggeration in language which makes the discrepancy between the words and the situation or the character silly. For example, to have a king speak like an idiot or a workman speak like a king.
SATIRICAL TECHNIQUES : <ul><li>7. Parody: A style which deliberately seeks to ridicule another style. This may involve, in less talented parody, simply offering up a very silly version of the original. In more skilful parodies, the writer imitates the original very well, pushing it beyond its limits and making it ridiculous. </li></ul>
SATIRICAL TECHNIQUES : 8. Reductio ad absurdum: A popular satiric technique (especially in Swift), whereby the author agrees enthusiastically with the basic attitudes or assumptions he wishes to satirize and, by pushing them to a logically ridiculous extreme, exposes the foolishness of the original attitudes and assumptions.