I love giveaways. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love is hosting a giveaway for advanced copies of her new book, “The Signature of All Things“. She is providing all the details through her newsletter which you can sign up for here.
This month she asks: Who is our favorite heroine of literary history?
Favorite Literary Heroine
My 9th grade English teacher, Mrs. MacMillan, introduced me to Liza (Eliza) Doolittle.
“Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and The Bible; and don’t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon.” Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw
I thought Pygmalion was absolutely delicious.
Written in 1912 and set in Victorian London, our heroine, accepts a challenge to improve her speech with the expressed intention of improving her lot in life. Liza has an absolute goal in mind as she sets out on this journey. She wants to be a proper Lady in a flower shop.
I love a heroine with a purpose!
In a weird twist of “to whom much is given, much is expected”, Liza could have become trapped in yet another structure of social class. She could have been like the Fox in The Little Prince, ‘”People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed.”‘ But instead she ends up completely owning the decision. It took me forever to get over her going back to the professor in My Fair Lady.
Language, as Shaw clearly expresses is so important to who and what we are.
As I thought about Liza today I realized that her story may have had a subconscious impact on my life. For the last 10 years I’ve worked in the voice over industry. I am completely fascinated by the history of words, how and why they are spoken and the evolving meanings we associate with them. Not until I answered this question did I ever connect the two.
I often fantasize about a world were everyone is passionate about language. Oh, wouldn’t that be lovely.
The Project Gutenberg offers a free copy of Pygmalion here.
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