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The Prostitute with a Heart of Gold – Story of Pygmalion

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I chose the archetype The prostitute with a heart of gold. An archetype isdefined as a universal idea that can take many forms, appearingspontaneously, at any time, at any place, and without any outsideinfluence (Pygmalions Word Play, Carl Jung, p. 82). When present in theunconscious, an archetype shapes thoughts, feelings, moods, speech, and actions.

The prostitute with a heart of gold originated in early Greek mythology asthe story of Pygmalion. Next, a more modern version called My Fair Lady waswritten and performed in the 1950s.

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Then in the 1980s the movie PrettyWoman came out, which has the same story line as the other two, although it is alot more modernized and the theme of a prostitute with a heart of gold ismuch more evident than in of its predecessors. Although the oldestprofession was just as large a factor in society in 1912 when George BernardShaws Pygmalion play was released as it is today, it was talked about muchless freely and the idea of reforming street girl was not as feasible as it istoday.

My Fair Lady was one of the first versions of a poor street girlmetamorphasizing into an elegant, proper lady. Pretty Woman can closely traceits roots back to My Fair Lady, because both women reform to a better lifethat they never dreamed was possible, the most striking difference being thatPretty Woman is a more modernized version and the evidence of prostitution ismuch more evident. In the story of Pygmalion, he wanted a wife, yet he saw toomuch corruption in women and always doubted their true motives. He was a verytalented sculptor, and one day he began sculpting an ivory maiden statue. Nowoman was physically comparable to this statue, not the most perfect naturallycreated woman. His art was so good that it caught him in his own web of deceit.

Eventually Pygmalion fell in love with this counterfeit creation, full wellknowing that he would drive himself mad obsessing over an inanimate object whileat the same time knowing that nothing good could come from his love. He caressedher, gave her presents and decorated her body with fine clothing and jewels. Heeven laid her on his royal bed at night to sleep, calling her his wife. Finally,the festival of Venus came and Pygmalion stood before the altar and timidlysaid, Give me, I pray to you for my wife – he dared not say my ivorywife, but said instead – One like my ivory virgin (Metamorphoses byOvid, p.10). The golden goddess of Venus knew that he meant he wanted his statueto be his wife, so she granted his wish. When Pygmalion returned home he placedhis hands upon his statue, and to his surprise she felt warm and alive! Her lipsbecame soft, and her skin molded to his touch. Nine months later a baby girl wasborn to them. In this Greek myth Pygmalion creates an ideal woman, made out ofivory. Although he never expected her to become real he still treated her likehis wife and took great care of her. Eventually his wish was granted and she wasbrought to life. The perfect woman, in his eyes, was now his wife. Pygmalioncreated and formed this woman, showing that if you want something bad enough andlove it as much as he loved his statue, you can make it happen. In My FairLady, written during the era of the 1950s in England, there was a higharistocratic society which demarcates itself from the rest of English society,consisting of the elegantly dressed bourgeois class sharply contrasting the poorpeasant class. Eliza Doolittle, a disheveled cockney flower vender who was luckyenough to catch the eye of a Professor Henry Higgins who gives her an offer shecant refuse. Higgins is a well known phonetic expert who studies …thescience of speech…speech patterns and their corresponding locations… (Pygamalion,p.19). He brutally criticizes Elizas detestable boo-hooing and crudepronunciations of words. To the snobby, intolerant Higgins inarticulateness andignorance concerning proper dialect and language produces a verbal classdistinction that functions as an external indicator of what class in societyyou belong to. He cannot understand why some English men and women do not takethe time to learn how to speak proper English. Higgins makes the offer to Elizato stay with him for six months and he would teach her how to speak articulatelyenough to pass in the most exclusive social gathering, the Embassy Ball, withoutanyone being aware of her Cockney origins, which is no small task. He says thatshe will become a proper aristocratic lady who speaks proper English. Once Elizaand Professor Higgins begin business, they practice the skills andpronunciations of the proper use of English. Everyday they repeatedly practiceElizas grammar, dialects, and speech patterns with a recording device thatenables Eliza to learn from her own mistakes. In just weeks there are dramaticdifferences in Elizas speech patterns that are apparent by listening to theirrecording lessons. Not only has her English improved, but her manners andetiquette have improved as well, due to the help of Professor Higgins. Monthslater, Eliza has been transformed into one of them, a member of theexclusive bourgeois class in England, able to pass at any social event shechooses, which is no easy accomplishment. Thanks to Professor Higgins, Eliza canmingle with the snobs of the elite class, and no one has any idea whereshe is originally from. Higgins has not only traversed the phoneticstream, transforming one polar opposite dialect into another, but he hassimultaneously developed an affection for his star pupil. Although he denies itto by telling himself that he can live just the same without her, just as he didbefore, he knows it is just a lie. The six months have passed quickly, and it istime for Eliza to leave. Eliza is a fresh new woman, and is capable of playingoff the aristocratic role, to live a sophisticated and proper life of her own.

In fact she won the heart of a fine gentleman, Freddy, and is planning amarriage with him. Higgins is surprised, although he doesnt show it, andcontinues to act as if he is not bothered at all by this development. In hismind though, hes remembering how accustomed he has grown to her face, that hewill soon miss. The two say their good-byes, and Higgins returns home tofind himself listening to the first recordings of Eliza. Shortly thereafterEliza returns back to Higgins home and surprises him with the truth of her truefeelings for him. She finally admits to herself that she has grown to love bothhim and his lifestyle, and that Freddy is not her true love. The story of MyFair Lady is similar to Pygmalion because of the similarities between thearchetypal characters Professor Higgins and Pygmalion. Professor Higgins has theintelligence and ability to take a poor and uneducated woman with no manners andsculpt her into an elegant and sophisticated lady who is able to ascend into theupper echelons of high society from the streets of England seamlessly. At thesame time, Professor Higgins has unknowingly molded Eliza into his idealwoman. On the other hand, although Pygmalion did not actually teach andtransform his statue into his ideal woman, his undying hope for an idealintellectual mate to suit the physical beauty he created brought together divineintervention with divine creation and formed his ideal woman, in his eyes.

Again, this is evidence that anything is possible, if you really devote yourmind to it. Although Professor Higgins was rude and snobby, he still held astrong belief in his ideal and it took a lot of devotion to take an unmoldedhuman being and bring qualities out in her that no one ever thought were there.

This example gives hope to every little girl who aspires to be something she isnot. Although Professor Higgins did bring to the surface the elite qualitiesthat were necessary to fit into society at this time, it was the untappedpotential in Eliza which made it possible for her to fit in and have confidenceto become something that she wasnt previously. Higgins clearly lacks theeroticism of Ovids Pygmalion, but his distaste for women in lifes gutters,his passion for creation, for an art that conceals its art in carrying a thingof beauty from raw materials, his dressing Eliza in gowns and jewels, and hisdesire to articulate life and achieve an ideal, all echo Ovids hero.

Pygmalions passions finally impregnate his creation; Higgins finally sparksEliza to give birth to the woman within her (Berst, p.13). Elizas growthinvolves increasing self-realization, an evolution from a lower to a higherstate of being, and an important quality that sometimes is not innately thereand must be developed. Pygmalion spent great time and effort in creating hisideal woman. This gives hope to society, especially the lower classes, that onecan change and succeed if they just try hard enough. The more advanced andmodern version of My Fair Lady was spawned in a film entitled PrettyWoman. This 1980s film is more blunt than its predecessors because theHiggins character (played by Richard Gere) chooses a prostitute (JuliaRoberts) not as someone to try to pass into high society, but as acompanion to himself. The movie takes place in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, in awealthy area in present day, and is not so unlikely a scenario to happenconsidering the day and age that we live in today. Gere is a rich, coolexecutive who finds a soft spot for Roberts, who turns out to be a strikinglyhonest, real and charming woman. Gere decides to hire her for business andsocial reasons (as a woman for display) with the agreement that she is treatedlike a princess for a week. She gets a new wardrobe, goes to the opera, andlearns proper etiquette manners for fine dining. We see Higgins plightparalleled in Geres attempt to pass her off as a normal, Beverly Hillsdebutante. We see Eliza Doolittle represented in Roberts because she decides shewants more from Gere than money. Julia ends up like a fairy tale character,succeeding in passing as well as getting her man, like Eliza Doolittle andsimilar to Pygmalions statue. Each woman is transformed into a new identity.

My Fair Lady and Pretty Woman are the stories that more young women willbe able to take inspiration from and shows once again that its very possibleto find true women with hearts of gold. Pretty Woman really shows society thatregardless of your living status, class or occupation, all women have theability to grow, change and succeed buried deep inside. Not all prostitutes orstreet people are helpless, and meaningless. They can have genuine hearts aswell and sometimes they are truly more honest and real because of theexperiences that they have lived through and the challenges they have faced thusfar in their lives. In all three stories, both the man and woman can be seen asan archetypal hero. Pygmalion, Professor Higgins and Richard Gere all each takethe risk of helping these women, and society could view them negatively fortheir involvement with the lower class. Eliza and Julia take a big risk in beingstepped on and being ridiculed lower than they already are compared to themens lifestyles. They are archetypal heroes because they have strongcharacter and are willing to change. These women have the confidence and abilityto change and this shows society that again, anything is possible. The onlydownfall was the verbal abuse both women took from the elite class, as they werelearning to adapt. High society doesnt appreciate or care for prostitutes,but for everyone to be fooled and convinced of this new woman shows theirabsurdity. A person has a heart of gold regardless of their status even if it isnot evident to the naked eye.

Theater

Cite this The Prostitute with a Heart of Gold – Story of Pygmalion

The Prostitute with a Heart of Gold – Story of Pygmalion. (2019, Apr 04). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/pygmalion-3/

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