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Pygmalion play Bernard Shaw

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Pygmalion play Bernard Shaw

مُساهمة من طرف Don HELMY في الأربعاء 28 يناير 2009, 1:54 pm



Pygmalion (play)

The story

It is the story of Professor Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics, who wagers that he can turn a Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, into the toast of London society merely by teaching her how to speak with an upper-class accent. In the process, he becomes fond of her and attempts to direct her future, but she rejects his domineering ways and marries a young aristocrat.
The original stage play shocked audiences by Eliza's use of a swear word. Humour is drawn from her ability to speak well, but without an understanding of the conversation acceptable to polite society. For example, when asked whether she is walking home, she replies, 'Not bloody likely!' The actress Mrs Patrick Campbell, for whom Shaw wrote the role, was thought to risk her career by uttering the line.

Origins of the story

Shaw used Pygmalion from Roman mythology as the basis for his play. Shaw's play also owes something to the legend of "King Cophetua and the beggar maid"; in which a King lacks interest in women, but one day falls in love with a young beggar-girl, later educating her to be his Queen.

The staging

Shaw completed Pygmalion and later that same year it was translated into German. This is important because the very first performance was played by English actors in Vienna, Austria, with none other than Mrs. Patrick Campbell as Eliza Doolittle. Pygmalion opened at the Hofburg Theatre on October 16, 1913, however it was moved to England, with the same cast, and opened there, on April 11, 1914 at His Majesty's Theatre. This was the first time Shaw's Pygmalion was performed in English.

The 1938 film version

In 1938, a film version of the stage play was released,[1] starring Leslie Howard as Higgins, Wendy Hiller as Eliza, Wilfrid Lawson as her father Alfred Doolittle, Scott Sunderland as Colonel George Pickering, and David Tree as Freddy Eynsford-Hill. It was adapted to film by Shaw, W.P. Lipscomb, Cecil Lewis, Ian Dalrymple, and Anatole de Grunwald from the Shaw play, and directed by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard. The movie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

My Fair Lady

The play was the basis for the musical play and film My Fair Lady.[2]
The play, the stage musical, and the film musical have different endings. At the end of the play, Eliza leaves Higgins to marry the aristocrat Freddy Eynsford-Hill. Shaw, annoyed by the tendency of audiences, actors, and even directors to seek 'romantic' re-interpretations of his ending, later wrote an essay for inclusion with subsequent editions in which he explained precisely why it was impossible for the story to end with Higgins and Eliza getting together. In the stage musical, this is left unresolved, and the final scene is of a lonely Higgins. Both the 1938 film and the filmed version of the musical add a final scene with both of them apparently about to reconcile.

Homages in film

Contemporary versions of the Pygmalion motif can be found in Willy Russell's play Educating Rita (1980) and Pretty Woman. A more recent version of the Pygmalion motif can be found indirectly in many teen movies, such as Can't Buy Me Love in the 80s (with its 2000s counterpart remake) and more directly in the movie She's All That.

Pygmalion is a fictional character from the Roman poet Ovid, found in the tenth book of his Metamorphoses. Pygmalion is a sculptor who falls in love with a statue he has made.
Pygmalion was a lonely Cypriot sculptor who carved a woman out of ivory. According to Ovid he is 'not interested in women', but his statue is so realistic that he falls in love with it. He offers the statue presents and eventually prays to Venus, the goddess of beauty and love. Venus takes pity on him and brings the statue to life. He marries, and their daughter Paphos was the product of the union between Pygmalion and his statue-wife.
Ovid's mention of Paphos suggests he was drawing on the earlier work of Apollodorus, who also wrote about a Pygmalion. The story has its classical roots in that of Daedalus, who uses quicksilver to install a voice in his statues; and of Hephaestus who creates Talos (an artificial bronze man), and Pandora (from clay, at the behest of Zeus).


Re-interpretations of Pygmalion

The basic Pygmalion story has been widely transmitted and re-presented in the arts through the centuries. At an unknown date, later authors give the name of the statue as the sea-nymph Galatea or Galathea. Goethe calls her Elise, based upon the variants in the story of Dido/Elissa.
In the Middle Ages Pygmalion was held up as an example of the excesses of idolatry, probably spurred by Clement of Alexandria's suggestion that Pygmalion had carved an image of Venus herself. But by the 18th century it was a highly influential love-story, seen as such in Rousseau's musical play of the story. By the 19th century, the story often becomes one in which the awakened beloved rejects Pygmalion; although she comes alive, she is initially cold and unattainable.
The story has been the subject of notable paintings by Jean-Léon Gérôme, Honoré Daumier, Edward Burne-Jones (four major works from 1868-1870, then again in larger versions from 1875-1878), Auguste Rodin, Ernest Normand, Paul Delvaux, Francisco Goya, Francois Boucher, and Thomas Rowlandson, among others. There have also been numerous sculptures of the 'awakening'.
Ovid's Pygmalion has also provided inspiration for several works of literature, including William Morris's Earthly Paradise, and Friedrich Schiller's Ideals. Both Morris and Schiller described the statue as made of marble.
There have also been successful modern stage-plays such as: W. S. Gilbert's Pygmalion and Galatea (1871); George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion (1912, staged 1914); and My Fair Lady (1956). Shaw's play also owes something to the legend of "King Cophetua and the beggar maid"; in which a King lacks interest in women, but one day falls in love with a young beggar-girl, later educating her to be his Queen.
Notable 20th century feature films are My Fair Lady (1964, based on the stage play); Mighty Aphrodite by director Woody Allen; and the film Mannequin, a remake of the 1948 classic One Touch of Venus.
The popular horror genre in film has also had an interest in 'bringing to life' waxwork figures and show-room dummies (see: Waxworks: A Cultural Obsession by Michelle Bloom).

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 teach himself what it sounds like. It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him. German and Spanish are accessible to foreigners: English is not accessible even to Englishmen. The reformer England needs today is an energetic phonetic enthusiast: that is why I have made such a one the hero of a popular play. There have been heroes of that kind crying in the wilderness for many years past. When I became interested in the subject towards the end of the eighteen-seventies, Melville Bell was dead; but Alexander J. Ellis was still a living patriarch, with an impressive head always covered by a velvet skull cap, for which he would apologize to public meetings in a very courtly manner. He and Tito Pagliardini, another phonetic veteran, were men whom it was impossible to dislike. Henry Sweet, then a young man, lacked their sweetness of character: he was about as conciliatory to conventional mortals as Ibsen or Samuel Butler. His great ability as a phonetician (he was, I think, the best of them all at his job) would have entitled him to high official recognition, and perhaps enabled him to popularize his subject, but for his Satanic contempt for all academic dignitaries and persons in general who thought more of Greek than of phonetics. Once, in the days when the Imperial Institute rose in South Kensington, and Joseph Chamberlain was booming the Empire, I induced the editor of a leading monthly review to commission an article from Sweet on the imperial importance of his subject. When it arrived, it contained nothing but a savagely derisive attack on a professor of language and literature whose chair Sweet regarded as proper to a phonetic expert only. The article, being libelous, had to be returned as impossible; and I had to renounce my dream of dragging its author into the limelight. When I met him afterwards, for the first time for many years, I found to my astonishment that he, who had been a quite tolerably presentable young man, had actually managed by sheer scorn to alter his personal appearance until he had become a sort of walking repudiation of Oxford and all its traditions. It must have been largely in his own despite that he was squeezed into something called a Readership of phonetics there. The future of phonetics rests probably with his pupils, who all swore by him; but nothing could bring the man himself into any sort of compliance with the university, to which he nevertheless clung by divine right in an intensely Oxonian way. I daresay his papers, if he has left any, include some satires that may be published without too destructive results fifty years hence. He was, I believe, not in the least an ill-natured man: very much the opposite, I should say; but he would not suffer fools gladly.

0. Introduction (continued)
Those who knew him will recognize in my third act the allusion to the patent Shorthand in which he used to write postcards, and which may be acquired from a four and six-penny manual published by the Clarendon Press. The postcards which Mrs. Higgins describes are such as I have received from Sweet. I would decipher a sound which a cockney would represent by zerr, and a Frenchman by seu, and then write demanding with some heat what on earth it meant. Sweet, with boundless contempt for my stupidity, would reply that it not only meant but obviously was the word Result, as no other Word containing that sound, and capable of making sense with the context, existed in any language spoken on earth. That less expert mortals should require fuller indications was beyond Sweet's patience. Therefore, though the whole point of his "Current Shorthand" is that it can express every sound in the language perfectly, vowels as well as consonants, and that your hand has to make no stroke except the easy and current ones with which you write m, n, and u, l, p, and q, scribbling them at whatever angle comes easiest to you, his unfortunate determination to make this remarkable and quite legible script serve also as a Shorthand reduced it in his own practice to the most inscrutable of cryptograms. His true objective was the provision of a full, accurate, legible script for our noble but ill-dressed language; but he was led past that by his contempt for the popular Pitman system of Shorthand, which he called the Pitfall system. The triumph of Pitman was a triumph of business organization: there was a weekly paper to persuade you to learn Pitman: there were cheap textbooks and exercise books and transcripts of speeches for you to copy, and schools where experienced teachers coached you up to the necessary proficiency. Sweet could not organize his market in that fashion. He might as well have been the Sybil who tore up the leaves of prophecy that nobody would attend to. The four and six-penny manual, mostly in his lithographed handwriting, that was never vulgarly advertized, may perhaps some day be taken up by a syndicate and pushed upon the public as The Times pushed the Encyclopaedia Britannica; but until then it will certainly not prevail against Pitman. I have bought three copies of it during my lifetime; and I am informed by the publishers that its cloistered existence is still a steady and healthy one. I actually learned the system two several times; and yet the shorthand in which I am writing these lines is Pitman's. And the reason is, that my secretary cannot transcribe Sweet, having been perforce taught in the schools of Pitman. Therefore, Sweet railed at Pitman as vainly as Thersites railed at Ajax: his raillery, however it may have eased his soul, gave no popular vogue to Current Shorthand. Pygmalion Higgins is not a portrait of Sweet, to whom the adventure of Eliza Doolittle would have been impossible; still, as will be seen, there are touches of Sweet in the play. With Higgins's physique and temperament Sweet might have set the Thames on fire. As it was, he impressed himself professionally on Europe to an extent that made his comparative personal obscurity, and the failure of Oxford to do justice to his eminence, a puzzle to foreign specialists in his subject. I do not blame Oxford, because I think Oxford is quite right in demanding a certain social amenity from its nurslings (heaven knows it is not exorbitant in its requirements!); for although I well know how hard it is for a man of genius with a seriously underrated subject to maintain serene and kindly relations with the men who underrate it, and who keep all the best places for less important subjects which they profess without originality and sometimes without much capacity for them, still, if he overwhelms them with wrath and disdain, he cannot expect them to heap honors on him.

Of the later generations of phoneticians I know little. Among them towers the Poet Laureate, to whom perhaps Higgins may owe his Miltonic sympathies, though here again I must disclaim all portraiture. But if the play makes the public aware that there are such people as phoneticians, and that they are among the most important people in England at present, it will serve its turn.
I wish to boast that Pygmalion has been an extremely successful play all over Europe and North America as well as at home. It is so intensely and deliberately didactic, and its subject is esteemed so dry, that I delight in throwing it at the heads of the wiseacres who repeat the parrot cry that art should never be didactic. It goes to prove my contention that art should never be anything else.
Finally, and for the encouragement of people troubled with accents that cut them off from all high employment, I may add that the change wrought by Professor Higgins in the flower girl is neither impossible nor uncommon. The modern concierge's daughter who fulfils her ambition by playing the Queen of Spain in Ruy Blas at the Theatre Francais is only one of many thousands of men and women who have sloughed off their native dialects and acquired a new tongue. But the thing has to be done scientifically, or the last state of the aspirant may be worse than the first. An honest and natural slum dialect is more tolerable than the attempt of a phonetically untaught person to imitate the vulgar dialect of the golf club; and I am sorry to say that in spite of the efforts of our Academy of Dramatic Art, there is still too much sham golfing English on our stage, and too little of the noble English of Forbes Robertson


_________________

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رد: Pygmalion play Bernard Shaw

مُساهمة من طرف Don HELMY في الأربعاء 28 يناير 2009, 2:01 pm




Author Biography



George Bernard Shaw was born into a poor Protestant family in Dublin, Ireland, on July 26, 1856. Despite childhood neglect (his father was an alcoholic), he became one of the most prominent writers of modern Britain. His mother introduced him to music and art at an early age and after 1876, when he moved to London to continue his self-education, she supported him for nine more years. During this period Shaw wrote five unsuccessful novels, then, in 1884, he met William Archer, the prominent journalist and drama critic, who urged him to write plays. Through Archer, Shaw became music critic for a London newspaper. With a strong background in economics and politics, Shaw rose to prominence through the socialist Fabian Society, which he helped organize in 1884. He also established himself as a persuasive orator and became well known as a critic of art, music, and literature. In 1895 he became the drama critic for the Saturday Review

*************************************************************


Characters:

Professor Henry Higgins - Henry Higgins is a professor of phonetics who plays Pygmalion to Eliza Doolittle's Galatea. He is the author of Higgins' Universal Alphabet, believes in concepts like visible speech, and uses all manner of recording and photographic material to document his phonetic subjects, reducing people and their dialects into what he sees as readily understandable units. He is an unconventional man, who goes in the opposite direction from the rest of society in most matters. Indeed, he is impatient with high society, forgetful in his public graces, and poorly considerate of normal social niceties--the only reason the world has not turned against him is because he is at heart a good and harmless man. His biggest fault is that he can be a bully.
Eliza Doolittle - "She is not at all a romantic figure." So is she introduced in Act I. Everything about Eliza Doolittle seems to defy any conventional notions we might have about the romantic heroine. When she is transformed from a sassy, smart-mouthed kerbstone flower girl with deplorable English, to a (still sassy) regal figure fit to consort with nobility, it has less to do with her innate qualities as a heroine than with the fairy-tale aspect of the transformation myth itself. In other words, the character of Eliza Doolittle comes across as being much more instrumental than fundamental. The real (re-)making of Eliza Doolittle happens after the ambassador's party, when she decides to make a statement for her own dignity against Higgins' insensitive treatment. This is when she becomes, not a duchess, but an independent woman; and this explains why Higgins begins to see Eliza not as a mill around his neck but as a creature worthy of his admiration.
Colonel Pickering - Colonel Pickering, the author of Spoken Sanskrit, is a match for Higgins (although somewhat less obsessive) in his passion for phonetics. But where Higgins is a boorish, careless bully, Pickering is always considerate and a genuinely gentleman. He says little of note in the play, and appears most of all to be a civilized foil to Higgins' barefoot, absentminded crazy professor. He helps in the Eliza Doolittle experiment by making a wager of it, saying he will cover the costs of the experiment if Higgins does indeed make a convincing duchess of her. However, while Higgins only manages to teach Eliza pronunciations, it is Pickering's thoughtful treatment towards Eliza that teaches her to respect herself.
Alfred Doolittle - Alfred Doolittle is Eliza's father, an elderly but vigorous dustman who has had at least six wives and who "seems equally free from fear and conscience." When he learns that his daughter has entered the home of Henry Higgins, he immediately pursues to see if he can get some money out of the circumstance. His unique brand of rhetoric, an unembarrassed, unhypocritical advocation of drink and pleasure (at other people's expense), is amusing to Higgins. Through Higgins' joking recommendation, Doolittle becomes a richly endowed lecturer to a moral reform society, transforming him from lowly dustman to a picture of middle class morality--he becomes miserable. Throughout, Alfred is a scoundrel who is willing to sell his daughter to make a few pounds, but he is one of the few unaffected characters in the play, unmasked by appearance or language. Though scandalous, his speeches are honest. At points, it even seems that he might be Shaw's voice piece of social criticism (Alfred's proletariat status, given Shaw's socialist leanings, makes the prospect all the more likely).
Mrs. Higgins - Professor Higgins' mother, Mrs. Higgins is a stately lady in her sixties who sees the Eliza Doolittle experiment as idiocy, and Higgins and Pickering as senseless children. She is the first and only character to have any qualms about the whole affair. When her worries prove true, it is to her that all the characters turn. Because no woman can match up to his mother, Higgins claims, he has no interest in dallying with them. To observe the mother of Pygmalion (Higgins), who completely understands all of his failings and inadequacies, is a good contrast to the mythic proportions to which Higgins builds himself in his self-estimations as a scientist of phonetics and a creator of duchesses.
Freddy Eynsford Hill - Higgins' surmise that Freddy is a fool is probably accurate. In the opening scene he is a spineless and resourceless lackey to his mother and sister. Later, he is comically bowled over by Eliza, the half-baked duchess who still speaks cockney. He becomes lovesick for Eliza, and courts her with letters. At the play's close, Freddy serves as a young, viable marriage option for Eliza, making the possible path she will follow unclear to the reader

_________________

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why so serious
?!?!?!?!





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