Women and Eccentricity

A comparative essay on the the characters of Eliza Doolittle in Shaw’s Pygmalion and the Dog-woman in Sexing the Cherry by Winsterston.

The paper shows how Eliza Doolittle and the Dog-woman project almost opposite images of British womanhood. The author discusses how Eliza has been turned out by her father into the slums of London and how she longs to live in comfort and security – she thinks her dreams can come true if she can speak proper English. The author shows that 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.
Shaw’s depiction of Eliza is based more on Victorian England’s class society and his main theme is challenging the proverb You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Women were to be seen and not heard, hardly intellectual companions, and primarily chosen as wives for business, family or property reasons, and very well bred to attract a lord or an earl. Higgins clearly views Eliza as less than he, not only because she is a woman, but because she is poor and uncivilized in her speech and manner. Winterson’s viewpoint is that women like Dog-Woman know how to survive and take care of themselves, are ingenuous and make the most of what they’ve been given, and with a flair, as opposed to the Twelve Dancing Princesses, whose fairytail marriages all end in disaster.