Assistant Professor Doctor Esra Almas
Theories of Drama and Adaptation
26th November 2013
Pygmalion, by Irish author George Bernard Show, has been adapted into numerous stage musicals and films. The play itself can be considered as an adaptation as well because it was inspired by the Greek mythological figure Pygmalion who created a marble statue of a woman called Galatea. Similarly, Professor Henry Higgins transformed a poor cockney girl, Eliza Doolittle, into an elegant lady in the screen and stage adaptations called My Fair Lady.
In my paper, I will focus on how the themes such as feminism, social class distinction were revealed in the stage and film versions of My Fair Lady. As a playwright and socialist, Shaw used his plays to reflect the moral values and current social problems of the time. He criticized the class distinction usually through the sense of humor. Furthermore, he was a passionate advocate of the women rights and the equality of income within the society and claimed that all kinds of injustice could be solved by rational thinking.
Both the screen and stage musicals are a clear criticism of England’s 19th century rigid class system, and emphasized the importance of language as a key to establish a homogeneous society. In the play and movie, the phonetic professor Higgins presents that the way people speak and wear is of great importance to abolish class distinction. Therefore, contrary settings and costumes of the period are illustrated on purpose to emphasize the hierarchy within the classes. Higgins believes that if he teaches Eliza how to speak in a sophisticated way, she will climb the ladder from low class to middle class and eventually work as a lady in a florist shop. From a different perspective, it is also criticized whether it is an advantage for a low class person to be taught high class speech and values even though she will never be a part of it due to the financial reasons. From the feminist view, Eliza is...