An analysis of middle class morality

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An analysis of middle class morality

Education and Intelligence Themes and Colors LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Pygmalion, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. Written inPygmalion is set in the early 20th century, at the end of the Victorian period in England.

Among other things, this period of history was characterized by a particularly rigid social hierarchy—but one that was beginning to decline as social mobility became increasingly possible.

The wealthy, high-class characters of the play are thus especially concerned with maintaining class distinctions. This means more than a mere distinction between rich and poor. The Eynsford Hill family, for example, is wealthy, but as Mrs. Eynsford Hill confesses to Mrs. Higgins not wealthy enough to go to many parties.

And Higgins wants Eliza to marry not Freddy, but someone of an even higher class. Perhaps the most important way in which these distinctions of social class are enforced is through manners, unwritten codes of proper behavior.

Shaw's play displays the workings of this system of social hierarchy, but also exposes some of its problems. For one, the play shows how the belief that one's social class and manners are natural is false. As Eliza's transformation shows, manners and nobility can be learned.

One's class is formed through performance, learning to act in certain ways. And moreover, as Clara Eynsford Hill comments, there is nothing inherently better about one or another performance: There's no right or wrong in it.

This is also evidenced by the fact that different cultures have different notions of polite behavior.

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Ironically, at several moments in the play, lower-class characters are better behaved than their supposedly well-mannered, upper-class counterparts. In Act Five, Pickering comments that Eliza played the part of a noble lady better than real noble ladies they encountered.

And Higgins, while somewhat upper-class, is very rude. Pearce must remind him to mind his manners in front of Eliza, and at the end of the play she has better manners than he does. There is thus no natural or inherent connection between social class and "correct" manners.

Despite the rigidities of social class in the world of the play, Eliza and her father show the possibility of social mobility. Not only is Eliza changed into a noble lady, but her father also inherits a sizable sum of money from the rich American Ezra Wannafeller.

An analysis of middle class morality

As a counterexample to Victorian England, Wannafeller stands in for the American ideal of social mobility—that one can rise up the social ladder through hard work.

By giving money to Mr. Doolittle, he allows Doolittle to become middle class. Doolittle himself challenges the assumption that such a move up the social ladder is necessarily a good thing.

He continually criticizes "middle class morality" and laments all the anxieties and troubles that his new wealth brings with it. By the end of the play, Eliza also misses her prior, simpler life as a flower-girl. Thus, Shaw's play questions not only the validity of a rigid social hierarchy, but even the desirability of a high social class.

How often theme appears:“The middle class tries to make the canons of individual morality authoritative for all social relations. It is shocked by the moral cynicism, the tendency toward violence and indifference toward individual freedom of the proletarian.

"Middle class morality" only implies that you are following the strict code of the immediate social set you rely on - as interdependency at that socio-economic level tends to be high, and the price of non compliance has a .

Now I am worrited; tied neck and heels; and everybody touches me for money I have to live for others and not for myself: thats middle class morality. (58) Doolittle realizes that all of the standards that he must adhere to in the middle class are actually more of a .

Middle-class Morality as Secularized Lutheranism? The outline of history presented has left out the value domain most conventionally associated with morality; namely, religion, and the acculturation of Lutheranism as a precursor to the Norwegian Enlightenment, as well as the often-postulated premodern roots of egalitarianism.

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Social Class and Manners ThemeTracker

Reach customers, grow sales, balance your books and work in collaboration from any device. Shaw was actually quite a radical for his time, a proto-feminist and anti-elitist. But I think there is a visible, unconscious residue of a few bourgeois mores in the. Doolittle is not so much a character as he is a vehicle which Shaw manipulates for his own dramatic purposes.

Through Doolittle, Shaw is able to make many satirical thrusts at middle-class morality and to make additional comments on class distinctions and on .

The theme of Social Class and Manners in Pygmalion from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes