Pretty Woman vs. Pygmalion

999 words 4 pages
In the history of literary texts, many original tales have often been appropriated decades later with a different message or purpose in the mind of the creator. The ideas, values and plotline are redefined in a new context to appeal to a different audience. Like all texts, both Pygmalion, written by George Bernard Shaw and Pretty Woman, directed by Gary Marshall, reflect values, beliefs and attitudes of the time, nearly 80 years apart.

The use of different forms highlights the different intended audiences. On one hand, Pygmalion was a play intended for the upper echelons on society. Pretty woman was created with the intention to blockbuster so it was consequently made into a film intended for the middle class.
In both texts we see
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On the opposite side of the spectrum, Higgins doesn’t refrain from dehumanizing Eliza referring to her with derogatory words such as “squashed cabbage leaf” “deliciously low” “draggle-tailed guttersnipe”; she is a bet to be won, an experiment to be made.

The film uses positioning technique to show that Vivienne is taller than Edward after the polo match. The transition of power is similarly conveyed when Eliza throws Higgins slippers, which symbolise domesticity, at Higgins. The key difference however is how the paternalistic figures react to it. Edward apologises and invites her back, whereas Higgins initiates an argument.
Another crucial message conveyed in both texts was the emergence of feminism. Pygmalion responded to the suffragette movement known as the first wave of feminism. Conversely Pretty woman depicts the main character welcoming a knight in shining armor, responding to third wave feminism. Supporting the fact that social class does not define character, both women have a strong sense of self and standards to uphold. Asserting her limited independence within the confines of her occupation Vivienne states “we say when, we say who and we say when”. Furthermore Vivienne rejected Edwards offer and initially prepared to leave for San Francisco in pursuit of an education. Similarly Eliza Doolittle marries Freddy, against