The Pygmalion Myth Essay

672 Words May 28th, 2006 3 Pages
The play of Pygmalion, written by George Bernard Shaw is an appropriation of the famous story of Pygmalion in Ovid's Metamorphoses. The main character of the tale, as the title suggests, is Pygmalion.

Pygmalion, repulsed by the apparently loose and reprehensible lives of the women of his era, decides to live unaccompanied and unmarried. Using his exceptional skills as an artisan and sculptor, he fashions a statue made from ivory. His work is regarded as being more beautiful than any living woman.

The more Pygmalion looks at her, the more deeply he falls in love with her. Eventually, Pygmalion begins to wish that his beloved statue, were more than just an immobile figure. Pygmalion then goes to the temple of the goddess Venus
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The central story is about having to surrender to a life that is very difficult and with a great struggle involved. The main character, Chiyo, who in this context is parallel to Eliza Doolittle, learns to ultimately find love in a world where love is forbidden to her. She is taken under the wing of another geisha, Mameha. Chiyo becomes the veteran geisha's protégé and under Mameha's mentorship, Chiyo develops into the geisha named Sayuri.

She is taught all the artistic and social skills a geisha must master in order to survive in her society. As a renowned geisha she enters a society of wealth, privilege, and political intrigue. As World War II impends on Japan, the geisha's world is forever changed by the onslaught of history.

The Pygmalion element, although with some variations, is quite evident in Memoirs of a Geisha. The character of Mameha can be likened to Professor Higgins of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. She transforms Chiyo, under her tutelage, from a lost cause facing a life of drudgery into one of Japan's most celebrated geishas. In summary, the combination of these elements in the stories reinforces the notion that even in today's modern society we are still obsessed with the Pygmalion

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