This scene also throws light to the characters; Prof. Higgins, an unconventional man, ‘who goes in the opposite direction from the rest of society in most matters’ (Sparknotes: Pygmalion: characters, 2010) and Colonel Pickering, an always ‘considerate and a genuinely gentleman’ (Sparknotes: Pygmalion: characters, 2010). The play, “Educating Rita” also presents two cultural extremes, the uneducated hairdresser Rita and the professor Frank. But when it comes to “Pygmalion” it is between Higgins and Eliza. Both the plays bring out the significance of education and depict tutorial lessons aimed to sophisticate the unlettered—Eliza and Rita.
Analysing the character of Eliza as a flower girl, it is observable that it was the family background; the alcoholic father and the poor social set up made her selling flowers and be the possessor of a bad conduct. A proper treatment; the phonetic lessons from Higgins and the good manners from Colonel Pickering, transform the street girl to a Duchess. If she would copy the character of Higgins, it is certain that there will not be any refinement in her state. Now it is crystal clear that culture has a decisive role in moulding one’s individuality.
Regarding the influence of culture “Educating Rita, ” one can notice that it was the lessons Rita imbibed from Frank opened her way to the vast realm of knowledge. Here also, as seen in “Pygmalion, ” culture influences individuality, which is the essential quality required to attain social identity. While reading through the play it is interesting to note that Frank is dissatisfied with his life and is despised with his culture. His failure as a poet leads him to have a low opinion of himself and in an attempt to escape from the world and frustration; he seeks refuge in alcohol by putting on a cynical, ironic facade.
It is the honest, continuous and sincere effort from the part of Rita brings him back to life and it provides him as sense of purpose or fulfilment in teaching. This also brings to our mind the fact that context largely determines the activation of personal or social identity. “Social identity comprises the parts of a person’s identity that come from belonging to particular groups, including age, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, and socio economic status” (Center for Creative Leadership & Hannum, 2007 p. 6).
To make it clear, one can say that it is the different traits in one’s character, influenced with the above mentioned dynamics, provide him/her social identity.
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