Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
As we've said more than once, Shaw wants to get us thinking about a lot of important stuff. Luckily, he's not into lecturing. Think of him as a zany, loveable teacher: he wants you to learn something and have fun doing it. (On second thought, that sounds a lot like your friends here at Shmoop.) The play's scenario seems so simple – poor girl becomes duchess thanks to brilliant, eccentric teacher – that, by the time Shaw starts asking the Big Issues, we're so invested in the characters that resistance is futile. The whole thing is a bit like Higgins himself. Sometimes Pygmalion can be hard to deal with, but in the end it's so charming that you can't help but like it.