Cypriot Sculptor in the Play Pygmalion
In the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, a few themes can be drawn and discussed. The first issue that can be addressed is that of a sculptor that was created out of clay but later turns into a human. It is explained that Cypriot sculptor on completing the statue discovers that he was “not interested in women” (McGee, 24). However, the sculptor turns out to be very beautiful to the point that he falls in love with it. This can be explained further during Aphrodite’s festival day in which he secretly wishes that his bride will be a real reflection and likeness of his living statue. Further revelations reveal that on returning home, he kisses it and realizes that its lips were warm and its hardness disappears. Through the blessings of Aphrodite, he marries it and together they have a daughter Paphos who forms the basis of naming the city. All these can be critically analyzed as a perfect learning process that leads to transformation. The living daughter born of the curving is an ideal example of how such changes can be productive and cause full independence.
Henry Higgins has made the character of Eliza in the same manner as that of the Cypriot sculptor. This can be illustrated in the following ways. Firstly, Higgins says, “As if I ever stop thinking about the girl and her confounded vowels and consonants. I’m worn out, thinking about her, and watching her lips and her teeth and her tongue, not to mention her soul, which is the quaintest of the lot.” (Shaw, 3.221). Henry is, in this case, referring to Eliza something that can be compared to the statute. They are both lovable and adorable (McGee, 16). They make the person loving them go crazy in love, and their quest for love can only be satisfied by the two. A character in a play can be known best by way of analyzing what other characters say about it. Additionally, Higgins tells Pickering in act three that he has been busy “Inventing new Eliza.” (Shaw, 3.226-244). This is a perfect illustration of Cypriot making the sculptor be a beautiful woman whom he later falls in love with. The two characters here have been developed by their lovers. We also observe Eliza changing in some ways throughout Pygmalion just like the stature. She first understands the art of speaking correctly and then starts dressing differently. All these are similar characters between the two as the clay doll also changes to become a mother and a wife.
Higgins`s Control over Eliza
It can be urged that Higgins as the creator of Eliza deserved a certain level of control over her. He even seems to suggest so when he says “I’ve taught scores of American millionairesses how to speak English: the best-looking women in the world. I’m seasoned. They might as well be blocks of wood. I might as well be a block of wood.” (Shaw, 2.165). In other instance, he claims that “he is not equal” to Eliza and all these suggests that he desired to control her. However, this is not right as the primary goal of educating anyone is to liberate them from the slavery of ignorance and make them independent. It will, therefore, be ironic to release them from one bondage and land them to another different kind of the same. The essence of educating them will, therefore, be selfish and aimed at personal gratification only, and this is wrong. We do not teach people so that we can control them as this cannot be referred to education. It is brainwashing. Therefore, in as much as Higgins felt that he needed to dictate the life of Eliza including whom to marry and the business not to engage, he has no right to at all.
Eliza discovers her strength and her independence begins when she accepts that she is no longer a weak flower girl seller but a sophisticated young lady with principles (Mayer, 22). The moment she understands this, she can stand up against Higgins despite him being the man behind her development. She tells him “I sold flowers. I didn’t sell myself. Now you’ve made a lady of me I’m not fit to sell anything else. I wish you’d left me where you found me.” (Shaw, 4.63-66). That marked the beginning of her independence. She is no longer a subject of use by anyone.
Artist and Art
This essay concludes that the relationship between Shaw and his work is that of intimate understandably. He seems to be an advocate of Victoria English culture of which as a native has full knowledge about it. He says, “Our native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and The Bible,” (Shaw, 4.67). He is suggesting his own culture of which he is a pro. The entire play is built on an attempt of teaching the English language to non-British citizens something that Shaw seems to have supported. Being in mind that the drama was written at a time when Great Britain had many colonies, the art applied seemed relevant, real and applicable.