In the play Pygmalion, by Bernard Shaw, a common flower girl goes from on the street selling flowers, to having the most beautiful dresses and diamonds on her wrist. There are many themes displayed within in play. Two dominate themes are social class and appearance versus reality.
Social class, is shown in Pygmalion because we get a deeper understanding of what its like to be in low class compared to middle or high class. Events that portray this is when Eliza comes in contact with Higgins. Eliza is treated poorly because of the way she speaks. While she speaks like this from her low social class. Higgins states in the beginning of the play,”You see this creature with her kerbstone English: English that will keep her in the gutter to the end of her days.”(18) Telling us that its hard to find your way out of a low social class once your in it. But, Eliza has nothing else to expect but to speak like this because her parents didn’t have much money and were low class themselves. Eliza had to live on her own from when she was really young and all these This causes Eliza to stay at these combined unfortunate things in Eliza’s life kept her at the bottom of social class. Her being low social class is also a reason why she gets treated so poorly, To be treated respectfully you need to be high in social class. Even tough you might enjoy getting treated better being of higher social class also holds more responsibilities. Mr Doolitle states, “I have to live for others and not for myself thats middle class morality.”(89) Mr. Doolittle is now held to the expectation of helping others once given money by Higgins. Now instead of asking others for money Mr. Doolittle has the responsibility of trying to help others. This reveals to the reader that social class is a big part of their society and to be respected you have to be high in social class, yet being of high social class also has some sacrifices.
Appearance versus reality reveals how people tend to judge people on the outside of someone before the get to see who they are inside. Higgins states, “They’re such fools that they think style comes by nature to people in there position. (75) This shows the significance of appearance in peoples such as Higgins eyes. We get to see this when we get to know Higgins throughout the play. Higgins cares a lot about how you are on the outside and what your appearance is. Higgins himself always looks professional on the outside. He has money, and he is able to live in a good neighborhood and have a nice house with nice things such as servents and fancy clothes. We later learn that Higgins doesn’t care for anyone but himself and he constantly objectifies Eliza throughout the play. We get to see Higgins’ outside appearance and how he really is on the inside, which represents the theme, appearance versus reality. Next, when at the dinner party everyone treated Eliza respectively because she was dressed up nice and her appearance was good when in reality she came from the gutter and sold flowers in the gutter, where none of the guests would have ever wanted to talk to her if she wasn’t as dressed up like how she was at the party.
The book Pygmalion clearly shows the themes, social class and appearance versus reality. These are shown threw many of the characters.