What is the main point of Pygmalion?

The main point of Pygmalion is to contest the idea that social class is based on genetics or the way in which one speaks. Shaw does this by showing that a poor, working-class young woman is quite capable of passing as a duchess. It is Eliza's character that truly makes her a lady, not her accent.

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Shaw, who was a Fabian socialist, wanted to illustrate the point that social class is based on opportunity, not genetics. Many people at the time—1913—believed that working-class people were poor because they were genetically inferior, not because they were systematically denied education and opportunity. Shaw uses comedy to show that...

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Shaw, who was a Fabian socialist, wanted to illustrate the point that social class is based on opportunity, not genetics. Many people at the time—1913—believed that working-class people were poor because they were genetically inferior, not because they were systematically denied education and opportunity. Shaw uses comedy to show that class is based on outward packaging, not innate intelligence or ability, in order to argue that working-class people deserve the same chances in life as others.

Shaw uses Eliza Doolittle to make his point. She has spent her life in poverty, with a heavy Cockney accent and a job selling flowers on the street. She is in great need of a bath and lives in an unheated room. Nevertheless, Higgins bets that he can turn her into a lady who can pass as upper-class in the highest echelons of society.

Higgins achieves his goal by having Eliza bathed and redressed, then teaching her to speak with an upper-class accent. Higgins believes the key to her success is her accent. Once she sounds like an upper-class woman, many people accept her as such, even when she makes social blunders, such as saying the word "bloody" at one of Mrs. Higgins's afternoon teas. Freddy is taken with Eliza and Clara imitates her, though Mrs. Eynsford Hill is appalled by this behavior.

By the end of the play, Eliza speaks to Higgins as an equal, realizing his position is no higher than hers and that she herself could become a teacher of phonetics, ultimately stealing business from him. This turns out to be merely a threat, though Eliza does eventually marry Freddy, a member of the upper class, and the two go on to open their own flower shop.

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