Relationship between Pygmalian and its appropriation SHes all that and their respective context and how it provides insight into how values have been maintained and changed

Essay by viv August 2004

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Texts reflect the context of the time in which they are composed as well as the culture their respective society possess. This is evident in Pygmalion, a play by George Bernard Shaw and its appropriation She's All that, a film directed by Robert Iscove. In these two texts, the same Pygmalion myth is approached from two different viewpoints to reflect distinctly the context of the time in which each was written. Shaw, through the use of a wide range of dramatic techniques such as language, form, and setting, is able to appropriate the Pygmalion myth to reflect the values and cultural beliefs possessed by society in Victorian England. Similarly, Iscove uses cinematic techniques such as setting, dialogue and costume to appropriate the myth to reflect the casual values and cultural beliefs possessed by 20th century American society. After analysing the two texts, we are able to understand how values have been changed or maintained.

Pygmalion derives its name from the famous story in Ovid's Metamorphoses, in which Pygmalion, disgusted by the loose and shameful lives of the women of his era, decides to create a beautiful statue more perfect than any living woman, named Galatea. Pygmalion goes to the temple of the goddess Venus and prays that she give him a lover like his statue; Venus is touched by his love and brings Galatea to life. Pygmalion and Galatea marry.

Shaw creates his own version of the Pygmalion myth by translating this allegory to reflect society in Victorian England. In doing so, he exposes the inadequacy of myth and of romance in several ways. For one, he deliberately twists the myth so that the play does not conclude as euphorically or conveniently, hanging instead in unusual ambiguity. Throughout the play, Shaw portrays the characters belabored by the trivial details...