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Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  71,605 Ratings  ·  1,500 Reviews
Shaw radically reworks Ovid's tale with a feminist twist: while Henry Higgins successfully teaches Eliza Doolittle to speak and act like a duchess, she adamantly refuses to be his creation. This brilliantly witty exposure of the British class system will always entertain-first produced in 1914, it remains one of Shaw's most popular plays.
Paperback, 155 pages
Published June 30th 1950 by Penguin Books (first published October 16th 1913)
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Apr 05, 2008 Sera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sera by: RGBC
Shelves: classics, own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
If you happen to be the Wayans Brothers and are stuck for ideas about where your next racist, sexist, gratuituously offensive comedy is going to come from, have you considered doing a gender- and color-reversed version of Pygmalion? I feel it has real potential. My first thought is to reunite Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher from Guess Who. Mac, in drag, plays Henrietta, a black linguist who bets her friend Picky (Oprah) that she can turn preppy white-boy Kutcher into a bro' within six weeks. Here' ...more

"Eliza has no use for the foolish romantic tradition that all women love to be mastered, if not actually bullied and beaten," says G.B.Shaw in the afterword to his famous play.
By the way, I think this quote should be memorized and repeated on the daily basis by the contemporary authors, especially in the YA genre, who attempt to create female characters. Really. Maybe I can start a campaign encouraging authors' awareness of this quote. Hmmmm...
This was one of the first plays I've ever read, and
Lisa N
Mar 16, 2011 Lisa N rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“My Fair Lady” is one of my very favorite musicals. I have avoided reading anything by GBS because I don’t care for his political views and because he was critical of Shakespeare. I actually enjoyed reading this play. It was very close to the “My Fair Lady” script, probably because Shaw also wrote the screenplay. (He was the first person to win both a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award.) The ending of “My Fair Lady” has always been a little unsettling for me. The mythical Pygmalion was a sculptor ...more
David Sarkies
Apr 04, 2014 David Sarkies rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: English Teachers
Recommended to David by: Indirectly my English Teacher
Shelves: modernist
Shaw's Masterpiece
16 April 2010

Pygmalion, in my opinion, is Shaw's piece de resistance (if that is how you spell it). It is a masterpiece. While I can simply leave it at that I am compelled to say a lot more about this play, but first, the plot.
Two English gentlemen (and when I read this book I wondered if it was implied that they were homosexual) bet as to whether they can take a street urchin and turn her into a lady by teaching her how to speak proper English. They do and the experiment is
Oct 17, 2011 Ekaterina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
That is a beautifully written play. I have watched this play recently in the theater, and I thought it was magnificent. Eliza was simply adorable and Henry Higgins made me laugh so hard. I will not spoil the book by blabbering about its content and the flow of events, but I just wanted to comment and give my opinion about the ending. I love endings like the one in this story. It is like the author is giving you the chance to create your own ending, thus letting you develop your imagination. I us ...more
Here is the plot as explained by Henry Higgins, who is such a satisfying and hilarious brute.

"There! Thats all you get out of Eliza. Ah-ah-ow-oo! No use explaining. As a military man you ought to know that. Give her her orders: thats what she wants. Eliza: you are to live here for the next six months, learning how to speak beautifully, like a lady in a florist's shop. If you're good and do whatever you're told, you shall sleep in a proper bedroom, and have lots to eat, and money to buy chocolat
Jul 12, 2012 Samyogita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Read it!!!' is all I can say.
You may think that you know what it's about because you've seen My Fair Lady or read an adaptation or just heard the story somehow, but trust me, you don't.
This is a timeless piece of writing and all other adaptations and interpretations - charming as they may be - fade in comparison because Pygmalion is about bigger things.

I did, sort of, keep picturing Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison as Eliza and Higgins throughout because I adore My Fair Lady (except for the end
Dave Hill
Mar 31, 2012 Dave Hill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is fun to read out loud in crazy English accents while stomping around your apartment. The neighbors might not like it but screw 'em.
Jul 21, 2012 Katsumi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour, classics
George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion is a story based on two completely different people and their primary wants. Eliza Doolittle is a flower girl, who has always wanted to be accepted in society and be loved. Henry Higgins is a linguistics professor, who has no respect for women and his main goal is to prove his knowledge to others and make them aware of his existence. Henry Higgins takes Eliza off the streets in order to give her what it is she wants; teaching her the English language and ways ...more
Jan 23, 2015 Yani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teatro
Una lectura que no tenía planeada en estos días. Por suerte, el desvío de los planes salió genial. Pigmalión es una obra de teatro distinta, que hace foco en un tema que no se aborda en estos días y que se lee rapidísimo porque divierte. Así de sencillo.

Cuento un poco el argumento, aunque ya muchos deben conocerlo por las versiones cinematográficas: un especialista en fonética (Henry Higgins) se encuentra casualmente con una vendedora de flores (Eliza Doolittle) cuya boca es, sin más ni menos
Aug 30, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A fountainhead of inspiration for countless projects, Pygmalion is actually not about love, and, this being a Shaw play, is all about social classes, manners and, what? phonetics. Also about humanity—about the power-play inherent in all types of relationships. Higgins, undeniably a gay man completely up to give the Betty a total overhaul, is not loveable, not even likeable. He is a tyrant—but he is written o-so-well, with British wit to spare. He is the prototypical academic—a sociopath,
Azra Šabovic
Mar 25, 2014 Azra Šabovic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is absolutely one of my favorite plays.
In the Pygmalion, Shaw uses symbols of slippers with the shifts in characterization to show how Eliza grows from being in different class than Higgins to being in the same class as him.
In the beginning of the play, Higgins finds Eliza on street treating her like dirt. She comes to him for phonetic lessons, in order to become a middle class women. Throughout the play, Higgins is always asking his maid and Eliza to bring him his slippers, where it indica
Dec 31, 2012 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jonathan by: The musical - My Fair Lady - sort of

This is the last book I will finish in 2012 as there are only 6 hours remaining in my day. It is certainly a fitting book (or rather play inside a book) to end the year on. For Pygmalion is a story about new beginnings and about transformation. What better book to symbolise the changing of the year, I say!

The classic musical My Fair Lady is perhaps my favourite musical film that I have seen. The acting is superb, the plotting excellent and all the music serves to add to the humorous feel of the
Oct 10, 2014 Mandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pygmalion is a story that’s been adapted time and time again in various forms. Of course we have My Fair Lady, both the stage and screen versions. There’s Pretty Woman and She’s All That and a few other obscure film and television installments. I’ve always loved Pretty Woman and My Fair Lady is such a classic that when I saw the original play at a local used book sale, I knew I had to have it. This story has some sentimental meaning to me as well: my best friend played Henry Higgins in our high ...more
I was surprised.......this is not a love story. I only vaguely remember the musical, and the outcome I envisioned is not what happens in the play.

I remember Eliza Dolittle as a poor flower girl, and the bet between two upper class gentlemen to turn a street "guttersnipe" into a proper lady, but not the horribly chauvinistic treatment she receives or the choices she makes in the end.

Totally enjoyed it!

May 30, 2014 Anirudh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Having never read a play before except as a part of a curriculum and having heard so much about Shaw, I ordered this book with great expectations. I was not disappointed.

Despite being only a bit shy of a hundred pages this play is wonderfully written. The plot itself intrigued me very much. To turn a flower girl from the street to a duchess by changing the way she speaks and dresses. I wonder if Shaw was trying to tell us that social status is not achieved by who you really are but by how you d
Jan 30, 2014 Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of George Bernard Shaw’s most beloved plays, Pygmalion is the work on which the subsequent musical comedy, My Fair Lady, is based. But the two works have important differences. Shaw’s work is far less sentimental and is throughout more ambiguous, especially in its ending. Furthermore, in order that it might be readable, the accents of the various characters are not attempted in the text, except at the very beginning (primarily to show that it would be unreadable if attempted). Those readers ...more
Sep 05, 2016 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobels
All my reading at the moment seems to revolve around the relationship between art and artist, creator and creation.

Reading the many excellent reviews on "Pygmalion" here on Goodreads, I realise how strange my approach to it was, and how disappointed I was at first because my expectations were not met in the beginning. I chose it as part of a reading challenge I set myself a couple of years ago, to read all Nobel Laureates in literature. The title appealed to me, and I was thrilled to explore a m
Mariam Abood
I'm first going to start off by saying I think the title is very misleading, because this play is not a romance. In fact, George Bernard Shaw was so irritated by interpreting Eliza and Higgins' relationship as a romantic relationship, that he added an appendix at the end of the play, explaining what happened to Eliza after she left Higgins, and lived a happy life without him. And do you know what, I have massive admiration for Shaw doing this, because I think the thought of Eliza having an affai ...more
Anupama Ma
Jan 04, 2015 Anupama Ma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is difficult to read a play without doing the voices. Having watched My Fair Lady, I think I did a great Eliza in my head. But other than the bad grammar, the Garns and the Aaa woo oo oh sound, there wasn't much of an accent. No Rain in Spain or Just you wait 'Enry 'Iggins. Still, it was a delightful read. Henry Higgins' unapologetic rudeness was shocking and totally unacceptable, but it was so much fun. I was supposed to get angry at the way he treated the poor girl, calling her names, talki ...more
Is Mini
Feb 04, 2015 Is Mini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really don't know why Pygmalion is still called a romance. I mean, Shaw himself was very dissapointed at the fact that his socialistic drama became a success as a romance. Shaw wanted to liberate his play from the traditional conventions of a romance, that's why he reversed the romantic story by giving a different end, marking Eliza's emancipation and independence. If this was a typical love story, the two protagonists would have been married at the end. But Shaw implies that Mr. Higgings wil ...more
My vision of Eliza Doolittle will always be Audrey Hepburn from the 1964 movie My Fair Lady. But eight years earlier (1956) Julie Andrews nailed her portrayal of Eliza in the Broadway production of the musical. Of course both of these award winning productions were based on George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion. In the first London stage production Eliza was performed by Mrs. Patrick Campbell, Shaw having written it with her in mind because of their unrequited love affair. I enjoyed reading the p ...more
Deborah Pickstone
5.5 stars

I just love GBS and this was a very entertaining play. I read my way through his complete works at age 16 and am now returning for a review of some. What a pleasure - and what a clever and witty man he was.
Ravi Gangwani
“I sold flowers. I didn't sell myself. Now you've made a lady of me I'm not fit to sell anything else.”

“Happy is the man who can make a living by his hobby”

“I can't turn your soul on. Leave me those feelings; and you can take away the voice and the face. They are not you.”
― George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion

Considering this book, of long back era, and hence ignoring the fact that I have seen this story in N number of movies brfore I read this. I would not have liked the ending if in the end Higgi
Jun 07, 2016 Brina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, plays
On a night where I am book keeping, I am writing this review to honor my grandmother who recently passed away. I lost track of the number of times we listened to the soundtrack of My Fair Lady either in her car, her apartment, or my house growing up. To me Eliza Doolittle, Henry Higgins, and Colonel Pickering are as much the actors who played them as they are are the memories I created with my grandmother and great aunt while watching the movie or listening to its timeless songs.
By the time I f

المسرحية رائعة .. بها كوميديا من نوع خاص احببته

أولا عن اسم المسرحية : "بيجماليون" وهو بطل اسطورة يونانية قديمة

كان (بجماليون) نحّات عظيم يكره النساء، لذلك أخذ على نفسه عهدا بألا يتزوج او يفكر في النساء وقرر ان يهب حياته لفنه الذي ابدع فيه، فصنع تمثال من العاج يمثل امرأة جميلة، ولكن بجماليون اصابه أمر لم يكن يخطر بباله فقد احب تمثاله حبا شديدا واصبح يقضي معه ساعات الليل الطويلة يقبله ويدغدغ يديه ووجهه

كان يفعل كل ذلك وهو يتخيل انه امامه امرأة حقيقية وليس تمثالا ، ثم حاول بجماليون لفترة من الزمن ان
Sep 20, 2016 Sarabvh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do any of us understand what we are doing? If we did, would we ever do it?

كاش بخش آخر رو نمينوشت. ياد داده چه جوري بايد ميخوندي، انتظار داشته چجوري فكر كني، فلان خط فلان حرف رو زده بوده بعدا ازش فلان جا استفاده كرده... انگار يه منتقد تفسير كرده، توضيح داده! :-/
Saçma sapan olmadıkları müddetçe romantik komedi türünde film izlemeyi çok severim. My Fair Lady de izlemekten çok keyif aldığım filmlerdendir. Hal böyle olunca Bernard Shaw'un "Dört Oyun" ismiyle yayımlanan kitabının ikinci oyunu olan Pygmalion'a başlarken oldukça heyecanlıydım. Oyunu okumaktan da en az filmi izlemek kadar zevk aldım. Filmle mukayese edecek olursam film, daha çok seyirciyi çekebilmek için olsa gerek, romantizm sosu daha bol bir film. Oyun bu yönüyle biraz eksik kalıyor filme gö ...more
Sep 17, 2016 Azumi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Me he llevado una sorpresa. Hace tropocientos años que ví la pelicula de My Fair Lady con Audrey Hepburn, pero creo recordar que no fue esto lo que me vendieron.... Xddd

Tanto es así que me he quedado descolocada y aún no sé si me ha gustado o no, por eso le pongo tres estrellas, bueno realmente 3,5.

El caso es que ha habido cosillas que me han molestado y el profesor Higgins me ha parecido odioso y pedante, pero en cambio el final me ha encantado (view spoiler)
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George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright, socialist, and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama. Over the course of his life he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his plays address prevailing social problems, but ...more
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