`` Pretty Woman `` By Bernard Shaw Essay

1331 Words Apr 24th, 2016 6 Pages
Due to differing contextual influences, Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion (1912) and Gary Marshall’s film Pretty Woman (1990) portray unique perspectives on the values of social hierarchy and gender roles. Shaw and Marshall both explore the transformation and social mobility of a young woman in order to comment on the social constructs of class divisions and gender roles within society. In Pygmalion, Shaw satirises the social hierarchy of early 20th century England whilst also criticising the rigid expectations and restrictions placed upon women in a patriarchal society. Marshall’s appropriated text, Pretty Woman, similarly examines both the relationship between wealth and social status, and the role of women in 1980s America. Although the appropriated film reflects various aspects of the seminal text, Pretty Woman offers a contemporary outlook on the values conveyed in Pygmalion.

The distinct social classes in Pygmalion create a strong hierarchy that pre-determines an individual’s opportunity and worth. However, Pygmalion challenges ingrained class inequalities and lack of social mobility in the Edwardian era through Eliza’s transformation. Moreover, Shaw highlights the superficiality of speech and appearance being markers for social status in order to criticise the class system. Throughout Pygmalion, language becomes a motif that demonstrates how phonetics is a key indicator for class. This is evident in Higgins’ dialogue about Eliza having “kerbstone English… that will…

Related Documents