In the Greek myth that Shaw uses as the basis of his play, Pygmalion takes a block of marble and sculpts it into a beautiful statue of a woman. He falls in love with his work of art and prays that the statue be brought to life so that he can marry it. His prayer is granted.
Likewise, Henry Higgins takes an unformed block of matter (as he sees her) in the form of Eliza Doolittle, an uneducated Cockney, and transforms her through elocution lessons, new clothes, cleanliness, and lessons in manners and deportment into a lady. By the time he is through with her, she is, like Pygmalion's statue, transformed. She even convinces dukes and duchesses that she is well born.
Shaw used "Pygmalion" as his title because he understood that his middle- and upper-class audience would know the original story from Ovid. He knew, too, that to his audience it would seem as miraculous to transform a working-class London woman into a lady as it would to transform marble into...
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