Capitalism in Pygmalion and Major Barbara -- Even a socialist Shaw must bend his ideological will to real-world demands

George Bernard Shaw called himself a socialist and both his plays "Pygmalion" and "Major Barbara" criticize middle class aspirations and social pretensions. The author's socialist philosophy can be seen when it expressed with a certain irony, by Henry Higgins in "Pygmalion," where Higgins comments, that Eliza's offer to pay him in shillings is the greatest sum he has been ever offered, he who has taught heiresses how to speak. Higgins says that, viewed in relation to what the young woman makes, such a sum is a virtual fortune.

This sentiment echoes the idea that, in a socialist economy, everyone gives whatever he or she can, and receives back what he or she needs. The poor flower girl will pay her tutor what she can, and receive back the great gift of...
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