What does the play show us of society at the time?.
Pygmalion was written in 1912 by George Bernard Shaw. Shaw was an active socialist, and many books previous to Pygmalion were based on social and political issues such as the war, capitalism and socialism. Through his writing, Shaw lays down his beliefs and teaches us about class division in the 1900s. Shaw supported the campaign to obtain the vote for women, in the form of the suffragettes. He thought women should get the same opportunities as men, as he believed strongly in equality for all mankind. The story of Pygmalion tells of a working class girl who gets the opportunity to play as a middle class lady. Shaw keeps the contrasts between the working class and the middle class marked throughout the story by using strong characters from both sectors. Representing the working class is Albert Doolittle; the middle class is represented by many characters, but Mrs Higgins and the Eynsford Hill family are perhaps the most stereotypical of all the characters chosen to stand for the controlling middle class. The story provides events and opinions from both sides of the class divide, and when the two different worlds are forced to mingle the results are interesting.
The middle class attitude to the working class lacked any respect and was a patent look down on the lower class. The stereotypical view of the working class in the eyes of the middle class was of drunken louts sponging off society and never doing an honest day's work. The middle class blamed the working class for all the wrongs in society especially the poverty and the crime, and saw them as a hindrance and dirt in their perfect middle class world. So the way they spoke to them was maybe how one would speak to an animal. Their voice would have an undertone of blame and disgust. The first comment Henry Higgins makes to Eliza is in fact an insult when he calls her a silly girl'.