43 Installments—Entirely free
The original makeover story from which a thousand imitators were born, this is the tale of how dapper Henry Higgins tries to elevate Eliza Doolittle from the cockney streets to the upper class.
In My Fair Lady, Audrey Hepburn made the character of Eliza Doolittle an instant and beloved classic. Here is the chance to read Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw's original play that formed the basis for the beloved musical. Two old gentlemen with an interest in linguistics and phonetics make a wager: Professor Higgins bets Colonel Pickering that he can pass off a girl with a thick cockney accent as a well-spoken duchess. The next day, the young girl Eliza Doolittle comes to Higgins' house asking for speech lessons, and Higgins' experiment begins. In addition to speaking lessons, Higgins trains Eliza in upper-class etiquette and dresses her in new clothes, and when she leaves the house for the first time, the dustman does not recognize her. After months of intensive training, Eliza is shown off in society and her transformation appears to be a resounding success. Once Higgins and Pickering have settled the terms of the wager, though, they grow bored with what they have thought of as a mere project. But Eliza has taken her rhetorical and physical transformation much more seriously, and the men fail to realize that their little project may be more than a game after all. Shaw's insightful play explores the nature of change and transformation—and asks how permanent such things can be.
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George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was born into a modest Dublin family. As a child, Shaw struggled throughout his schooling, resisting the rigid structure and rules that he felt were unnecessarily imposed by strict educational institutions. After leaving school in his teenage years, Shaw worked as a clerk, not sure of the direction his life would take. His parents, however, separated around this time and Shaw left his father’s home in Dublin in order to join his mother and sisters in London and try his hand at writing. London offered Shaw the kind of freedom and opportunities that he needed in order to develop. He was able to spend time reading and perfecting his literary craft in libraries around the city. He joined like-minded peers in the Fabian Society, a well-known London group of progressive political thinkers. In the 1890s, Shaw saw his first successes on the London stage, and went on to produce dozens of plays, novels, and works in prose, including Pygmalion, St. Joan, and Cashel Byron’s Profession. Shaw is perhaps best known for his play Pygmalion, which was adapted into the musical “My Fair Lady,” enjoying long-lived success on the stage and screen.Back to top
Opening Lines (Experimental)
PREFACE TO PYGMALION.
A Professor of Phonetics.
As will be seen later on, Pygmalion needs, not a preface, but a sequel, which I have supplied in its due place. The English have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it. They spell it so abominably that no man can ...
Reviewed by roaming_smile on Dec 18, 2009
A Disappointing Ending
I really liked this play, however the ending made me sad. Maybe I'm just one of those hopeless romantics, but i sincerely wished that Higgins and Eliza would set aside there differences and get together. Nothing against Freddy, of course. It just seemed like the would, until the end of the fourth act. I still loved it.
Reviewed by caseyapplebox on Apr 21, 2009
I very nice story that provides a commentary on society and the Victorian class system. Not really a 'make-over' story like its film adaptation.
Reviewed by aditii on Jul 27, 2009
My Fair Lady is one of my favorite movies, and the play underneath it is beautifully written (though I'm ambivalent about the ending!).
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Ratings for 'Pygmalion' by Shaw, George Bernard