Pygmalion Questions and Answers
by George Bernard Shaw

Pygmalion book cover
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"Eliza is the victim of a language experiment." Discuss with reference to Pygmalion.

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Pygmalion, which was the basis for the later musical My Fair Lady, was about a man who studies language (specifically phonetics, if you believe him) and who claims his skills are so great he could transform a low class girl, who he meets on the street, into a lady in three months flat, primarily by changing how she speaks. The entire rest of the play focuses on that experiment and the resulting changes in Eliza. The reason she's a victim is that she is led to expect far more than she used to; Higgins ruins her past life and doesn't fully fit her for the new one he's led her to expect.
(For more on this, see the enotes summary and analysis of the play.)

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