Pygmalion as Satire

George Bernard Shaw’s humor is laced with satire – that biting wit or irony used to expose vice or folly. This literary device has been used by many writers throughout history to attack those aspects of society which they found distasteful or dangerous. Satire can range from gentle irony to rippling sarcasm. (The Centre For Learning)

Have a look at this example of Satire from The Onion. What is satirized here?

Below is a list of ideas Shaw treats satirically. Choose 1 and identify how he develops this.

  1. Trying to be what one is not can make one appear ridiculous
  2. An individuals status in society is determined by how he speaks and dresses.
  3. Cleanliness and neatness are luxuries not indulged in by the poor
  4. The lower class have good reason to hate, fear, or mistrust anyone in authority
  5. Those who possess the manners, habits and skills of the upper class are not qualified to earn a living
  6. Marriage is not always an ideal state
  7. Social class divisions are highly artificial.

With a partner brainstorm issues of vice or folly you see in the world today? How might they be treated satirically?

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