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REVIEW: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion is the story of lower class flower girl Eliza Doolittle and her transformation into a “lady” of England.  Henry Higgins is a master of phonetics and can tell where a person comes from just by hearing a few spoken words.  He and an acquaintance, Mr. Pickering, decide to make a bet of whether Higgins can transform this low-class girl into a passable lady of speech and composure if not of actual means and station.

Overall, I thought these characters were pretty much one-dimensional.  I certainly did not enjoy the character of Higgins at all.  He struck me as an egocentric, “holier-than-thou” type person.   That he saw through everything and acted the same way to each person, not caring if it offended because it was how he treated everyone. Eliza and Mr. Pickering were more believable characters and I enjoyed them more.  Maybe I identified with Eliza more because she is a woman.

Generally speaking, the story itself was a light, airy one that provides entertainment more than anything else, I think.  Of course, Shaw’s feminism certainly plays a role in this story.   I’m glad the book ended the way it did and not necessarily what most readers would have thought or hoped for.   I don’t want to give it away in case any of you intend to read it.  But definitely post your thoughts and comments on it if you have any!

This was the first play I’ve read in a while.  I’ve determined that I enjoy reading plays because it is essentially all dialogue and the story seems to move much faster.  I’ve noticed that I tend to read them much faster as well.

After reading this (and reading the brief notes at the beginning of the book about Shaw), I am interested in reading more by Shaw.

Have you read Pygmalion or any other works by Shaw?  What do you think?  What do you recommend?


5 thoughts on “REVIEW: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

  1. Actually, I was going to be reading Pygmalion right now, but it turns out that I own Mrs. Warren’s Profession by Shaw and not Pygmalion. So, I’m reading that, and so far (although I’m not very far in at all), it’s interesting. Apparently, it is about prostitution, so it should be interesting!


  2. I haven’t read the play yet but have seen My Fair Lady enough to feel like I’ve read it (I also tricked myself into thinking I had read Pride and Prejudice when really I had just watched the miniseries obsessively… don’t worry, I remedied that!). I also remember loving the modern adaptation (She’s All That) when I was in high school. I’m a big fan of modern versions of classic plays as it shows that Shaw’s writing and message is timeless.


    1. I did the same with P&P…but still have yet to read it… I should probably get on that!

      I’ve never seen My Fair Lady, but after reading the play, I’ll see if there is a version of it on Netflix (…and I just found a version with Audrey Hepburn…I’ll add it to my queue!). I like to watch the plays after I’ve read them because it gives me a better sense of the play (case in point: The Importance of Being Ernest).


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