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He was determined to raise the social consciousness of his audience while emphasizing the use of language.Shaw portrays this through Higgins and Eliza in Pygmalion who are at the opposite ends of society.Social judgment based on linguistics is evident in the way Eliza speaks and immediately Higgins places her in a lower social position than his and considers her as an inferior.
This non-standard and ungrammatical speech clearly manifests that Eliza lacks linguistic competence.
Through Eliza’s poor articulation and social grace, Bernard Shaw also tries to criticize the vulgarity of lower class language.
Shaw tries to use this not only as an indicator of the different societies that Eliza and Mrs.
Eynsoford Hill live in, but also tries to portray the changes in character when these people from different classes interact.
Keeping all this in mind, I came to formulate the research question “How and to what effect does the use of language empower Higgins and transform Eliza?
” Shaw felt that the only way to improve ones position in society was by improving their language.
I would then argue that language doesn’t hold a connection to the gender inequality in the society. I will also be stressing the fact that as a well refined lady, Eliza faces an identity crisis and more gender inequality than she did living on the streets as a common girl. B Shaw’s comedy of purpose Pygmalion, language is seen as an effective tool of social power which imposes hierarchy on society.
Shaw believed that language causes social inclusion and exclusion and this Edwardian mannerism and prejudice finds expression in the social, educational and gender injustice of his times.
Shaw’s parenthetical comment on Eliza’s speech stresses his distaste for the cockney accent.
The importance of language is further brought into view when Eliza comes across Professor Higgins in the street, a proud phonetician, who can distinguish everybody’s origin from his/her accent.