What are the common points between Pygmalion written by Bernard Shaw and Pygmalion, the greek myth?
Why did Bernard Shaw chose Pygmalion as the title for his drama? What are the common points between the two pygmalions?
In Ovid's Metamorphoses, the famous Greek legend, king Pygmalion, who was also a sculptor, carved a statue of his ideal woman and named it Galatea. The statue he created was so beautiful and perfect that he fell in love with it immediately. He prayed to Aphrodite (the Goddess of love), to bring the statue to life. Aphrodite granted his wish and then Pygmalion married Galatea.
In the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw’s famous play Pygmalion (that hits a satire on British class system), the phonetics expert Henry Higgins takes challenge to make cockney speaking, flower girl Eliza Doolittle speak and behave like the elegant, upper class refined British women.
We see, George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion is loosely inspired from this Greek legend in several ways apart from the common title. There is a clear parallel between Greek legend Pygmalion and Professor Higgins (who have a similar outlook for women). Pygmalion never found a woman worthy enough for his love. Higgins notion of women is somewhat similar. His worth for Eliza is as simplistic as an experimental object. We can say just like Pygmalion created a wonderful piece of art (that even got life) from something as wasteful, ugly and lifeless as a stone, Higgins creates an elegant, refined lady from a lower-class, slum girl. In fact, he treats Eliza as his creation also.
Further to it, as an audience we sometimes strongly believe, contrary to Shaw, that Higgins and Eliza should have had met in the end, just like Pygmalion and Galatea get married, though we see this doesn’t happen in the play.