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analyze the attitude toward gender in pygmalion.is higgins a sexist?if higgins were to...

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cherrylips | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 18, 2009 at 2:38 AM via web

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analyze the attitude toward gender in pygmalion.

is higgins a sexist?if higgins were to marry eliza how would this reinforce or change what the play seems to be saying about gender?

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kkpsy | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 18, 2009 at 6:07 PM (Answer #1)

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Shaw wrote the part of Eliza in Pygmalion for the famous actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell, with whom Shaw was having a prominent affair at the time that had set all of London abuzz. The aborted romance between Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle reflects Shaw's own love life, which was always peppered with enamored and beautiful women, with whom he flirted outrageously but with whom he almost never had any further relations. For example, he had a long marriage to Charlotte Payne-Townsend in which it is well known that he never touched her once. The fact that Shaw was quietly a member of the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, an organization whose core members were young men agitating for homosexual liberation, might or might not inform the way that Higgins would rather focus his passions on literature or science than on women. That Higgins was a representation of Pygmalion, the character from the famous story of Ovid's Metamorphoses who is the very embodiment of male love for the female form, makes Higgins sexual disinterest all the more compelling. Shaw is too consummate a performer and too smooth in his self- presentation for us to neatly dissect his sexual background; these lean biographical facts, however, do support the belief that Shaw would have an interest in exploding the typical structures of standard fairy tales.

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