Women And Eccentricity In Shaw Eliza Doolittle Term Paper

Length: 4 pages Subject: Sports - Women Type: Term Paper Paper: #82676742 Related Topics: Dogs, Women, Puritans, Mice And Men
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Women and Eccentricity in Shaw

Eliza Doolittle and the Dog-woman project almost opposite images of British womanhood. Eliza has been turned out by her father into the slums of London and she longs to live in comfort and security. She thinks her dreams can come true if she can speak proper English. The Dog-woman, on the other hand, unlike the Cockney flower girl, is practically a misfit, but not quite. She wears her size and oddness as though they were inevitable.

The title of W.'s Sexing the Cherry is obviously a provocative one. Yet the image actually comes from the sexing of hybrid cherries.

The Dog-Woman is the perfect image of that old joke about the 800-pound gorilla who can sit on the bus wherever he likes. She is a giantess, can hold normal-sized Jordan in her palm, and plows her way through life in a way that tells everyone that if she can't join 'em, she'll beat'em at their own games. For example, she loves to shock Puritans:

sweated for fear that they would make me stand up and thus see my size. Since my battle with the guards, Tradescant had told me there was a warrant for my arrest.

You may go in,' said one of the soldiers.

Then, please,' said I, rolling my eyes winningly, 'please, clear a path for us, for I will have to stagger up the steps into the gallery while my daughter catches any fluids that may flow from me.

It is the stench of a three days' dead dog, and not for the noses of the tender' (Winterson, 73)

Winterson graces Dog-Woman with the kind of sense of humor that would make most of us groan "Ewww!" And giggle uneasily. On the other hand Shaw graces his heroine with spunk, grit and the


Eliza Doolittle is an eccentricity to Henry Higgins, a scholar of dialects, and she becomes his pet project. Her Cockney English of the lower classes is full of yowls and shrill ways of speaking her mind that selling flowers on the streets has taught her. What she lacks in size and sexlessness (unlike the Dog-Woman) she makes up for in sheer lung power, but Eliza's bottom line is that she is a "good girl, she is."

At least she would never have referred to dead dogs and bodily fluids, but her poverty alone is enough to grate on Higgins' expectations of womanhood.

The stories were both set in the 17th and 19th century, times when women were expected to be very quiet. During Shaw's time, Victorian England, women often fainted at the sight of a mouse and were considered to be, for the most part, submissive to men. During Puritan times as well, whom the Dog-Woman terms "flat-bottom roundheads," women were similarly behaved.

In this way, both women have no intention of falling over at any man's feet. Throughout the second act of Pygmalion, Eliza fights Higgin's instructions to clean her up tooth and nail:

You're a great bully, you are. I won't stay here if I don't like. I won't let nobody wallop me. I never asked to go to Bucknam Palace, I didn't....If I'd known what I was letting myself in for, I wouldn't have come here. I always been a good girl;...and I don't owe him nothing;

and I don't care; and I won't be put upon, and I have my feelings the same as anybody else -- (Shaw, II, 8).

Again, the Dog-Woman's heroic fights with the Puritans show her fearlessness of what she considers their rank stupidity and odious religion:

ran straight at the guards, broke the arms of the first, ruptured the second, and gave the third a kick in the head that knocked him out at once. The other five came at me, and when had dispatched two for an early judgment another took his musket and fired me straight in the chest. I fell over, killing the man who was poised behind me, and plucked the musket ball out of my cleavage. I…

Sources Used in Documents:



Winterson, Jeannette. Sexing the Cherry. New York. Atlantic Monthly Press. 1989.

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