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Quote of the Day: George Bernard Shaw

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“You have no idea how frightfully interesting it is to take a human being and change her into a quite different human being by creating a new speech for her. It’s filling up the deepest gulf that separates class from class and soul from soul” (Shaw, Pygmalion).

Hey guys,

I was so inspired by the musical I saw tonight that I decided to take a quote from the play Pygmalion.  I am sorry I am not posting about the Tempest tonight, but I promise I will post about it eventually, hopefully.  Tonight I saw My Fair Lady, which is based on the play Pygmalion, which is based on the Greek myth of Pygmalion.  The tale of Pygmalion can be found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  In this tale a sculpture made a statue of the perfect woman and fell in love with it.  He went to the temple of Venus and prayed she would make his statue real.  When he came home and kissed the statue he found its lips were warm and that his wish had been granted.  His perfect statue had become a real woman.  The play, Pygmalion, and the musical, My Fair Lady, are like this Greek myth.

Professor Higgins, a professor of phonetics, bragged that he could turn Eliza Doolittle, a common flower girl, into a Duchess.  She considered this offer and went to his residence to ask him for lessons.  He accepted when him and his new friend, Colonel Pickering, made a bet over whether Higgins could get Eliza to speak properly in six months.  This idea is like the Greek myth because Professor Higgins is, in a way, recreating Eliza.  He is giving her new life and shapes the new lady she becomes in the end.  The creator falls in love with his creation.  However, in the play and musical, Eliza becomes defensive when Professor Higgins does not give the credit to Eliza.  She put in the hard work, but Higgins attributed the success to himself.

Q: Do you see similarities between the Greek myth and the musical/play?  Do you see any differences?  Do you think there is such thing as the “perfect woman?”

Thanks for reading!  Please post your comments below!

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7 thoughts on “Quote of the Day: George Bernard Shaw

  1. Never seen a perfect woman. Ironic that vast majority of them think they are. To be fair, never saw a perfect man either but Gandhi and Jesus are certainly worth emulation.

  2. I am more familiar with Shaw’s Pygmalion than Ovid’s, but one difference might be that Shaw’s Higgins attempted to create a more rounded woman than Ovid’s purely physical ideal. When Ovid’s statue of beauty ‘comes to life’, it seems to be implied that her intellectual, emotional and spiritual characteristics will be in sympathy with those of her creator – that beauty can be accepted as a sign of goodness in all things.

    One man’s idea of the perfect woman is very different from another’s.

    For example, Carl’s suggestions of near-perfect men might suggest his model for the near-perfect female as someone like Mother Theresa – my apologies for speculating Carl. I’m sure many men would not nominate Mother Theresa, and would instead opt for a greater degree of physical beauty.

    I can’t resist responding to Carl’s view that most women think they are perfect. I can only speak for myself, but I am so far from being the perfect woman that someone would have to be out of their mind to attempt a Pygmalion experiment on me. Any takers?

    Did you know that Shaw hated the musical adaptation of his play? Shaw’s plays also make excellent reading on their own. Arms and the Man and Major Barbara are my favourites.

    • Wow, I had no idea that Shaw hated the musical adaption. Is it because of the changed ending? I enjoyed Pygmalion when I saw it and was surprised to see My Fair Lady end differently. I suppose Lerner, the writer of the musical, wanted a more conclusive ending. I am not sure which one I like better, they are just different. I would love to read another Shaw play if I had the time. Thanks for the comment!

  3. So I have wondered in a very unique page good stuff you have here

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