Theme vs. Topic in Pygmalion

Theme in Literature

A common misconception when studying literature is that a themes a single word, universal ideas. This is not the case. When a writer develops a theme, she must not only identify a topic or concept, but also develop a position as to how that topic will be treated.

Consider the following:

  • Love
  • Faith
  • Appearance
  • Sacrifice
  • Innocence

Compare these topics to the theme below:

In A Doll’s House (one of our next texts) we will investigate the theme of sacrifice.

What does this statement tell you about the writers views on sacrifice?

How about:

Women will sacrifice principles for the good of the family/society.

Analyse the information in this theme. What do you learn about the play?

Shaw explores a variety of themes throughout Pygmalion. Look at the topics below and develop them into thematic ideas.

  • Identity
  • Love
  • Language
  • Morality -> The inevitability of class morality.
  • Class/Status

Turn these topics into themes found in Pygmalion.
Are Bernard Shaw’s themes still relevant to audiences today? Pygmalion was written almost 100 years ago. Has our sense of class and identity developed over the years or are we simply bound by the distinctions Bernard Shaw presented a century ago?

Write an opinion on this question using evidence from the text and comparing/contrasting with society today. It will be useful to focus on one specific society, culture or subculture.
Extension: Craft a political cartoon that satirises one of your developed themes. You might write from Bernard Shaw’s perspective 100 years ago or from your own.

Image: ‘Love´s in the air!! Muuuitos corações!!!!

One Response to “Theme vs. Topic in Pygmalion”

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