Pygmalion Act 1

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In the preface Shaw describes the Oxford phonetician Henry Sweet, on whom Professor Higgins is modeled, but warns us that Higgins is not a portrait of Sweet. Shaw says that he wrote the play in order to make the English aware of the importance of phonetics, and he is grateful that the play has been a great success on the stage. He complains that the way English is written has little to do with the …

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…these two. Indeed, we must see the play as a deliberate attempt by Shaw to undo the myth of Pygmalion, and, more importantly, the form of the romance itself. Bearing this in mind, it is possible to approach the rest of the play without a preconceived idea of how a romantic play should conclude, and to notice, as Shaw intends, that there are more utilitarian than romantic aspects to the characters' relationships with one another.