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Comment on the genre of Shaw's Pygmalion.

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sofishibu | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 20, 2009 at 12:18 AM via web

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Comment on the genre of Shaw's Pygmalion.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 26, 2009 at 10:30 PM (Answer #1)

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It is interesting that Shaw himself called his play a "Romance". Shaw was thus referencing a well-known literary form to which his play does not actually comply. For example, if Pygmalion were a romance his audience would expect there to be a romantic element in the relationship of Liza and Higgins. However, Romance also refers back to a literary form that was separate from more realistic forms through exaggerated and magical narratives. By calling his play a "romance" Shaw is perhaps pointing us towards the amazing transformations in the play (just like the original "Pygmalion" by Ovid) and also the idealised characteristics which the characters try to achieve.

Most would agree however, that this play would fit into "A Comedy of Manners" - a type of comedy that pokes fun at the conventions of society and normally explores the theme of how appearance is more important than moral character. However, as with all of Shaw's plays, it is hard to pigeonhole his work into any one category.

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