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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Language and Communication

We hear language in all its forms in Pygmalion: everything from slang and "small talk," to heartfelt pleas and big talk about soul and poverty. Depending on the situation, and depending on whom you...

Transformation

This one may seem like a no-brainer: Pygmalion's all about turning a poor girl into a duchess, right? Well, sure, and Eliza's metamorphosis is stunning. You could even go so far as to call it a Cin...

Identity

Every single day we talk about ourselves, saying "I did this," "I did that," "I am," and "I'm not," but we don't usually think about what "I" means. In Pygmalion, Shaw forces us to think this throu...

Appearance

Is beauty only skin deep? Is it in the eye of the beholder? Or is it the consequence of social circumstances? Shaw's more interested in dealing with the big questions – like that last one ...

Manipulation

In Pygmalion, we see different types of influence and control, sometimes literal and other times metaphorical: the teacher training his student, the artist shaping his creation, the con artist flee...

Society and Class

In Pygmalion, we observe a society divided, separated by language, education, and wealth. Shaw gives us a chance to see how that gap can be bridged, both successfully and unsuccessfully. As he port...

Women and Femininity

A lot, as you've probably guessed, has changed in the last century. Back when Shaw wrote Pygmalion, women could not vote in the United Kingdom; in 1918 women over the age of 30 were given the right...

Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

Mick Jagger is right when he sings, "You can't always get what you want." It's true, sometimes just by trying you can get what you need, but that's not always the way it works. What if you get what...
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