Gender Roles In Pygmalion And Arcadia

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When Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion was written, women could not vote and their role followed very conventional roles such as mothers and housekeepers. On the other hand, Thomas Stoppard’s Arcadia was written in modern time where gender equality had been significantly advanced but still somewhat behind. Thus, both plays have notable differences in how women functioned. In Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Eliza Doolittle functions as an object that is used to the benefit of her male counterparts whereas in Thomas Stoppard’s Arcadia, Thomasina and Hannah function as creative and intellectual people to further the progress of knowledge. Ultimately, both of these works of literature portray women this way in order to criticize the unjustness of gender roles. …show more content…
However, both plays portray women the way they do in order to criticize the confinement that is a result of gender roles. For example, in Arcadia, Thomasina possesses promising intellectual qualities but is restrained by her expectation to marry and settle down and become an ideal woman much like Lady Croom. By holding Thomasina back from her interests due to her gender, Arcadia critiques how women are treated solely due to their gender. In contrast to Thomasina, Hannah represents a woman in a more ideal situation in which she is free to pursue whatever she desires without restriction from her gender. From Hannah’s equal portrayal to males, Arcadia is able to deliver a solution to the gender role problem it discloses by illustrating fairness between two genders. Going forward, Pygmalion takes a different approach on how women function in the play but also condemns the same issue of gender roles that Arcadia addressed. For example, Eliza Doolittle merely functions as an object to Higgins and Mr. Doolittle instead of being a respected individual as seen through Mr. Doolittle’s successful attempt to sell her to Higgins and Higgins’s advice to Eliza for her to marry and settle down. Essentially, Mr. Doolittle and Higgins’s disregard of the qualities Eliza has as a person reveals how Eliza was not respected and expected to marry even if it conflicted with her interests. In Eliza’s case, her capability to strive would have to be ended by being married and confined to the role of a wife. Thus, Pygmalion critiques this expectation by accounting for the issue by allowing Eliza to open up her own flower shop. Overall, her profession of owning her own business contrasts with one of an ideal woman’s but serves to uncover the possibilities women could possess if they were not restrained by their

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