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The Meaning Of Open Ending In Pygmalion Play

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Pygmalion play is a play which written by George Bernard Shaw, it is presented in the first time on the theater in 1913. This play was about a flower girl called Eliza, she is transformed into a lady from high class by the phonetics professor ‘Henry Higgins’. He wagers Colonel Pickering that he is ablt to change a girl like a flower girl, and he can change her to look like a duchess in few months. She accepted to go to Professor Higgins’s house, and she offers to pay him to learn speaking clearer, so she can improve herself and job. When they have been done, Higgins took Eliza to a party where she get a success, and fools many people to believe that she is a lady. But, after the experiment is implemented, she wonders where is the place that will fit her in this society. The end of the play was an interesting issue, since Higgins did not think that Eliza can leave him, he has become accustomed to be part in his life, he takes her for granted. But Eliza became a strong and independent woman, she left him. After the end of the play, the viewers are still not quite sure whether he will win or she will. This essay will investigate the issue of the end of Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, and its purpose in the play.

In the end, Eliza realized that she had moved from the low class to the high class, but she could not belong to it. Higgins sees her as an object through which he won the bet, he did not expect that Eliza would rebel and leave him, but it was not clear to the audience that she had left him or would back to live with him. I think the play has an open end because Eliza is now in a big trouble, she has learned and improved herself, so it is unreasonable to back to selling flowers as a woman of the low class. At the same time, she is not quite a lady from high-class because she still does not know much about them and Higgins cannot consider her belong to the same high class.

Shaw said about the end in his afterward: ‘History of Eliza Doolittle…, transfigurations have been achieved by hundreds of resolutely ambitious young women… Nevertheless, people in all directions have assumed, for no other reason than that she became the heroine of a romance, that she must have married the hero of it. This is unbearable…’. Shaw sees that Eliza’s change refers to her independence and strength, and this is what is meant by the open end, the decision will be with Eliza. Imagine that the ending would be too romantic is unlikely, or we could say it was rejected by Shaw.

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I think that the end tends to be realistic, Eliza realized in the end that she does not belong to any social class, so if she does not know herself, she will not know her decisions will depend on any basis, does she choose as a woman from the low class or from the high class? It is realistic for the end to remain open because the main character lost her identity, and she is baffled to leave or stay.

In the play, there are many indications that Eliza cannot determine her choice. She does not know if she is a woman from the high class or low class. In the beginning of the play, because Eliza was from the low class, she simply agreed to live in Higgins’s home, and she knows that his only goal from teaching her phonetics is to win the bet with his friend. However, after she became independent, she refused to live with him and his friend in an informal relationship. This means the radical change in Eliza’s personality. On the other hand, Eliza was a florist and her desire was to own flower shop in order to improve her income, but after she learned to speak as a high-class people, her desire changed, she wanted to compete Higgins, and teach phonics. But at the end of the play, none of these indications were implemented. She did not make her decisions as a woman from high class firmly because the side which belongs to the low class in her personality would like to choose something else.

There are similarities between Eliza in Pygmalion and Nora in A Doll’s house, both of whom are female figures who suffer of persecution because of male power. Nora and Eliza have undergone dramatic changes in their lives because of men, whether Higgins or Torvald, they treated them as less than humans, this contributed at the end to create the moment of realization that they lost their identities. Therefore, ultimately Eliza and Nora decided to leave everything and live for themselves.

The end in the play was a major issue, Eliza found it is difficult to make decisions because she does not know which social class she belongs to. So, when Shaw made the ending open, it was realistic. It makes sense that Eliza will be confused about the end that she will choose because it is crucial. In conclusion, this essay concludes that the end of Pygmalion is caused by the loss of identity that Elisa suffered from, and thus the audience can create the end by themselves.

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The Meaning Of Open Ending In Pygmalion Play. (2021, September 13). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from
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