Pygmalion was written by George B. Shaw. On stage it was played in 1913. The performance had a remarkable success. In Greek mythology, Pygmalion is a man who fell in love in one of his female statues. The sculpture came to life. He named her Galatea. Pygmalion is so enchanted with his creation that he wants to marry her. And he did. In time, the word Pygmalion evolved to mean man who shapes something – an uncivilized woman into a cultured one. This is the main theme of the play. Shaw created a character Harry Higgins, professor of phonetics, who is Pygmalion and cockney Eliza Dolittle who is Galatea.
The play starts with key characters searching shelter from the rain. A girl with flowers appears. She is trying to sell flowers to people in the shelter. She speaks cockney and is very uncultured. A girl with flowers is trying to sell a flower to a gentleman. In the meantime, the whole situation is observed by a man. The man is writing down everything he is hearing. The girl with flowers becomes upset because she believes the gentleman is a policeman. There is a debate about that matter. The man who takes notes correctly guesses where people are from based on their speech patterns. The rain stopped. Everyone left from the shelter except for the flower girl, the gentleman and the man with the notes.
We find out that the man with the notes is Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins. Colonel Pickering is the name of the gentleman. It turns out that the both men are interested in each other’s work. It also happens they had plans to meet each other. They started talking about the science of speech and phonetics. The men exchange the addresses.
While the men are leaving, flower girl is still trying to sell them the flowers. Higgins is very condescending to her. At that moment, church clock strikes midnight so he throws her some coins in her basket.
The next day, the girl with flowers goes to Higgins’s house. Her wish is to become more refined. She plans to pay him for the lessons with the money he gave her. Pickering is also in Higgins’s house. We find out her name is Eliza Dolittle. Higgins has zero tolerance for high society and he does not like rules. Sometimes, he is viewed as a bully. He decides he will take Eliza as a project. The outcome is that Eliza will be refined in her speech in only few months time. She will be thought as a woman of class, she will learn how to speak, how to dress and how to behave.