Section 7: Makeovers

Skills Focus: Sentence Style Edit to replace bland verbs and multiword verbal expressions with vivid verbs

Today we launch unit 2 by discussing Anthony Asquith and George Bernard Shaw’s 1938 film Pygmalion. The film is based on Shaw’s play of the same title, as is Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s tremendously popular musical My Fair Lady.

HW, part 1 Finish watching Pygmalion. Here are some questions to reflect on:
  1. Based on the bet they make, what can we infer Higgins and Pickering respectively believe about individual identity?
  2. Why is the early scene with the Eynsford-Hills (Clara, Freddy, and their mother) so funny? More generally (thinking about their appearances in later scenes as well), what role do these characters play in the story?
  3. Why is Eliza so angry with Higgins when they and Pickering return home after the ambassador’s ball? How does Higgins’s mother account for her anger? Do you agree with Mrs. Higgins’s analysis?
  4. What do you make of the contrast between Higgins’ s manners and Pickering’s? What do Higgins’s manners imply about the relationship between manners and social status?
  5. What do you make of Eliza’s remark that Colonel Pickering “treats a flower girl as if she were a duchess”? What about Higgins’s retort: “And I treat a duchess as if she were a flower girl”?
  6. What do you make of Alfred Doolittle’s reaction to the financial success he’s gained thanks to Higgins?
  7. What do you think about the contrast between Alfred and Eliza? What’s ironic about the Alfred Doolittle subplot?

HW, part 2: Online Discussion Go to our canvas website to share your thoughts and questions about Pygmalion and respond to other students’ comments.

HW, part 3: Spotlight on Verbs Read the following advice on using strong verbs to improve sentence clarity
  • Wilbers, Chapter 13, “Use Strong Verbs to Drive Your Sentences,” in Mastering the Craft of Writing
  • Wilbers, Chapter 14, “Don’t Nominalize; Verbalize,” in Mastering the Craft of Writing
  • Helen Sword, “Zombie Nouns” in the New York Times

HW, part 4 Before noon on Saturday, upload to canvas draft 2 of your essay (a revised or unrevised version of the draft you uploaded Wednesday)