فرع مجلة الميادين للدراسات المقارنة------المجلد الأول------العدد الأول

“PYGMALION IN MYTH AND DRAMA”

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     ABSTRACT

Myth is an important branch of knowledge. Myths are untrue stories that include supernatural powers, extraordinary events, stories about the existence of the world, the creation of gods and goddesses, and the creation of Man. Greek myths represent an essential part of Greek civilization and Greek history. Despite the fact that these myths are imaginary and untrue, they portray the way of life, the religion, the history, and the culture of ancient Greeks. Greek mythology differs from other kinds of mythology, for it reveals the true value of Man as a supreme creature. It is also acknowledged for its humanization. Even Greek deities are humanized, given the shape and qualities, but not the abilities, of Man.

Mythology represents an important part of classical literature. It has been exploited in modern English drama. In his play Pygmalion, Bernard Shaw borrows the ancient Greek myth of the Greek sculptor Pygmalion, which appears in Ovid’s book Metamorphoses. He makes use of the beautiful romance of Pygmalion and Galatea and turns the myth upside down, by using his distinctively ironic and witty style. His play transforms the myth into an anti-Romantic comedy, whose end shakes the audience’s anticipations. In the Greek myth, Pygmalion, the Romantic artist of Cyprus, sculpts an ivory statue of a woman whom he calls Galatea. He falls in love with his creation, and prays to Venus, the goddess of love, to grant her life. Venus answers his prayers. In Pygmalion, Shaw turns the Romantic sculptor into a rude phonetician, Henry Higgins. The love story of Pygmalion and Galatea, blessed by the goddess of love herself, is transformed in Shaw’s play into a casual experiment between Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle. By turning the myth upside down, Shaw fulfills his aim of belittling his characters by adding some realistic details. Moreover, he finds an opportunity to attack Romanticism and introduce his own ideas and beliefs. As Pygmalion is regarded one of the most popular among Shaw’s plays, and as it includes some pleasant and entertaining events, it also presents an important lesson; namely, that one should not toy with the life of others. In this play, Shaw affirms that by Art only, one can attain one’s aspirations and be immortalized. Pygmalion, or Higgins, or Shaw will be made immortal by their art.

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