Nevertheless, Stephen is sure of his deep knowledge and competence; he merely states that he knows the difference between right and wrong. Shaw uses his two favourite stylistic means (gradation and irony) to express Undershaft's indignation at such boldness and self-assurance: "You don't say so! What! No capacity for business, no knowledge of law, no sympathy with art, no pretension to philosophy; only a simple knowledge of the secret that has puzzled all the philosophers, baffled all the lawyers, muddled all the men of business, and ruined most of the artists: the secret of right and wrong. Why, man, you are a genius, a master of masters, a god! At twenty four, too!" There are two cases of gradation in this small extract. The first is rising in emotional intensity: philosophers (thinkers and observers) are only puzzled by this vital problem, lawyers and businessmen (men of action) are baffled and muddled (bewildered), artists (the most emotional and easily wounded people) are ruined utterly. Another case of gradation is used for ironic praise (or so called blame-by-praise): Undershaft starts with "genius" and finishes with "god".
The entrepreneur discloses all the truth: he says who is the real government of England - he, his companion Lazarus and other businessman: "I am the government of your country: I, and Lazarus. Do you suppose that you and half a dozen amateurs like you, sitting in a row in that foolish gabble shop [Parliament], can govern Undershaft and Lazarus? No, my friend: you will do what pays us. You will make war when it suits us, and keep peace when it doesn't. You will find out that trade requires certain measures when we have decided on those measures. When I want anything to keep my dividends up, you will discover that my want is a national need".
When speaking about British government Undershaft intermixes high, pathetic, stilted words with colloquial ones: "Be off with you, my boy, and play with your caucases [committee formed for the time of election] and leading articles and historic parties and great leaders and burning questions and the rest of your toys. I am going back to my counting house to pay the piper and to call the tune". Pathetic words are used ironically: in such a context leaders are not great and the questions are not burning. A little speech is concluded with a highly colloquial phraseological unit "to call the tune".
Two last Undershaft's speeches remind us of Shaw's aphorisms from the play "The Man of Destiny". Napoleon gave a speech about "morality" of English people who had never done anything without principles: if an Englishman fought with somebody he did it out of the principle of patriotism; if he robbed you - it was out of the principle of business; if he beat you - it was out of the principle of courage, etc. The playwright also remarked that if somebody wanted to find a person with high moral standards he should definitely be searching outside England.
Stephen's speech is full of high words and banalities. It is another Shaw's paradox that incompetence of English government and absence of practical skills on the part of charity workers are exposed in speeches of Undershaft - the enemy of humanity and "manufacturer of death".
The play "Pygmalion" shows author's belief in the possibilities of man. Eliza, a girl of eighteen, comes from the lowest social level and speaks with a strong Cockney accent, which is considered to be the most illiterate English. The play shows how Eliza struggles to rise to a higher cultural level. Bernard Shaw knew the common fate of those who were born in poverty. There was no rising from it to another standing without outward culture. The Cockney English spoken in the East End of London was like a stamp on a person's reputation.
It is she who insists on being taught. Eliza studies hard to be pulled out of the gutter. Her father who is merely a dustman becomes a preacher because he has an oratorical gift. Eliza doesn't only learn correct English - she becomes a cultural and harmonious person. Nevertheless, the end of the play has a tragic colouring: we don't know if Eliza will find a place in the new surroundings, but she will never return to the old one: "Oh! If I only could go back to my flower basket! I should be independent both of you and my father and all the world! Why did you take my independence from me? Why did I give it up? I'm a slave now, for all my fine clothes".
In such plays as "Arms and the Man" and "Major Barbara" Shaw uses mainly satire in order to criticize and improve. In the play "Pygmalion" humour, not satire is used: it treats its subject kindly, laughing at some exaggerated or strange features of the person. Humour is created at different levels: lexical and syntactic.
Humour is induced by using the word "manner" in two meanings: direct - "style (rules) of behaviour" and contextual "treating people (communicating) with them in some way": "the great secret is not having bad manners or good manners or any other particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls: in short, behaving as if you were in Heaven, where there are no third-class carriages, and one soul is as good as another". The humourous effect is emphasized by using in one sentence such lofty and colloquial words as "Heaven", "third-class carriages" and "soul".
In the following example there is a play on the literal and figurative meaning of the expression "to be passedover": direct - by a bus, fig. - to be disregarded. There are also instances of pun, based on ordinary repetition: "I'm no preacher: I don't notice things like that. I notice that you don't notice me".
The instance of humour is based upon the similiarity of syntactical structures of the sentences, while their meanings are changed completely: "Eliza: He [Pickering] treats a flower girl as if she was a duchess. - Higgins: And I treat a duchess as if she was a flower girl".
So, Bernard Shaw created a new social drama of discussion. The writer dealt with such vital problems as incompetent government, war, climbing social ladder, education. Shaw's ideas are rendered chiefly through the dialogue, and even a negative personage can be the author's mouthpiece. Playwright's favourite devices are paradoxes, gradation, grotesque, mixture of lofty and colloquial words for creating irony. The author definitely prefers satire and irony to humour because his main task is to criticize and reveal, but not to entertain.
1. Collins W. Essential English dictionary. - London; Glasgow: Collins Publishers; the Un-ty of Birmingham. - 1990. - P. 326.
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