Pygmalion Questions and Answers
by George Bernard Shaw

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 How does Shaw satirize society in Pygmalion?

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Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856–2 November 1950) was first staged in 1913. Shaw himself was a lifelong socialist, vegetarian, social critic, and spelling reformer. His quirky and idiosyncratic works use sharp verbal humor to satirize many facets of British society, especially class and gender roles. When he published his plays, he wrote extensive prefaces that point out precisely what he was trying to achieve in the plays in well-argued and cogent detail. Students writing essays about Shaw's plays will benefit greatly from reading and referencing these prefaces.

The first thing Shaw satirizes in Pygmalion is gender roles. Traditionally, in romantic dramas of this period, women were treated as weak and passive and men as heroes who protected and rescued them. Eliza, however, despite her disadvantages, is a shrewd and powerful character, who despite being initially cowed by Higgins, proves resourceful. Rather than wishing to be dominated in marriage, she chooses Freddie as a...

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