Elevating Class and Language Between Two Plays
A person’s language is often connected to his or her social status. A person from a higher status will have a different dialect of the same language than someone from lower status. People brought up in poor surroundings or poverty are keen to swearing and have little concern to speaking properly as their language was intended. People from high society are the opposite. They are very much concerned with using their verbal skills and their rhetoric, and they are able use it as a form of power over others. These ideas of language between classes can be seen in the plays “The Tempest,” by William Shakespeare, and “Pygmalion” by Bernard Shaw. Though Shaw’s play is much more focused on the language based transformation of “Eliza Doolittle,” and the interaction between her and Professor Higgins, Shakespeare’s creates a similar relationship between the lowly Caliban, and his master Prospero. Both plays show that a superficial change in education, or language, cannot realistically change a person or their social class, rather the real changes to these characters are made internally. Both Eliza and Caliban come from poor backgrounds. Eliza is a very poor flower girl with terrible English. She swears often, by saying “bloody” constantly between sentences. As Shaw describes her initially as “the flower girl” she is unsympathetically described as ugly and disgusting, “Her hair needs washing rather badly: its mousy color can hardly be natural. She wears a shoddy black coat that reaches nearly to her knees and is shaped to her waist” (Shaw, 13). Even her accent makes her feel like a second class citizen. Beneath all of this, Eliza is still a proud girl, “I’m a good girl, I am” (2). Because “The Tempest” contains magic, Caliban is born the son of the deceased witch Cycorax. Like Eliza, Caliban also maintains his pride as he believes he is the rightful owner of the island which Prospero later took control over. Also like Eliza,...
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