Depiction of Pygmalion as a Male Sexist

Categories: GenderGodLove

” This is the representation we are provided with of Galatea. She serves as decoration, servility and compliancy. From all the connotations within Ovid‟s Pygmalion, women are demoralised and the question that arises is, what could be better – a woman who‟s beautiful and never t alks back to you?Men on the other hand are regarded as assertive and superior. Pygmalion is depictedas a sexist male who lives by a strict moral code, much like other men in his context, who swears off women who „prostitute‟ themselves.

His God like complex gives himthe ability to create a perfect woman implying that there is such a thing and that menshould be able to control and shape women. This is applied both figuratively and literally when we hear the phrase, “ Now he seeks her mind to move,” whic h suggestshe wants to control her mind as well as her body.

Not only this but the dominance of Pygmalion is later explored through his ownership and possession of Galatea when “he calls her bride” – she has no choice but to agree as she is still objectified.

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The significance of the parrot, “imitating human tongue”, is a crucial phrase in the poem. It reinforces the concept of control and power of the male as a parrot only imitateswhat it hears. Females are passive objects whereas the male is an active creator whowould essentially give life to the creature. Throughout Ovid‟s Pygmalion , there is theconstant construction of gender focusing on the strengths of a male vs.

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the weaknessof a woman.Beddoes ‟ writings again reflect and reinforce the values of a patriarchal society andwere preoccupied with death, medicine, politics and gender all major issues of thenineteenth century.

He wrote in the Romantic period and his Pygmalion deals muchmore with emotions and the notion of unfulfilled love. Whereas Ovid‟s Pygmalion loves his creation after the Gods have granted her life, Beddoes version has him falling in love with the statue and arguably before he has even carved the stone. It‟s a love, which is all consuming for him and he ultimately dies as a result of it. Sexual discourse within Beddoes‟ poem is a prominent feature highlighting his patriarchal society and reinforcing his context. Words such as, “fiery chisel” and “thrust and gashed and swept”, are examples of sensual imagery , suggesting that the poem will deal with love, lust and procreation. He refers to women as temptresses a nd “witching like the moonlight” and it is this behaviour that leaves Pygmalion in a state of discontentment to which his personalityis then contrasted. He is described as having a bright soul, as lovely as the sun.

This isa metaphor to his life – he is seen as a creative genius, which demonstrates theRomantic period in which Beddoes ‟ wrote his transformation of Pygmalion. He is sounalike and separ ate from the rest of society that they “left a place… so that his mindhad space”. From the very beginning men are represented as the superior sex whohold all control. This idea is supported by the role of women in the town. They are domesticated chamber ladies who stop their work in order “to get thei r eyes blest bythe site of him, ” hoping to achieve approval of some sort. Beddoes‟ uses powerful natural and erotic imagery that evokes emotion during the creative process of forming Galatea.

There is a long passage that describes the awfulshape the marble was in that Pygmalion somehow manages to turn into his beautifulstatue, implying that women are impure and in a grim condition before a man reachesthem -further establishing the dominance of the male. Once Galatea has been createdwe can understand the construction of the feminine schemata. Pygmalion describes her as a “delicate delight” and the use of the words “should be” produce unrealistic standards of beauty – much like Ovid‟ s Pygmalion. Although Galatea, and on a larger scale, females in general, are objectified in their relative contexts, Pygmalion wishes his creation would come to life. Beddoes‟ uses techniques such as similes to convey this meaning to us as readers. However, it is therhetorical question at the end of the stanza that proves to question the sensitivity of Pygmalion. He asks, “But that it was too beautiful to die?”

The significance of this highlights the beginning of his vulnerability and his need for Galatea as he pleads toVenus even acknowledging that she “made me”. After realizing his meekness, Pygmalion changes his attitude completely, becoming bitter and childish – a stereotype for what men‟s behaviour turns into once not getting what the y want. Thedeath at the end of the poem has given Galatea a certain amount of power anddominance over the creative genius and this subverts and undermines the values of their context. Lastly, Rodin‟s marble sculpture of Pygmalion and Galatea, created around 1908,conversely subverts and undermines the values of its context. Firstly, Pygmalion isdepicted as a weaker and less dominant character in this adaption of the Pygmalionmyth . Pygmalion is seen sitting, a symbol that he has become lesser than a female.

Furthermore, his slouched shoulders and soft gaze emphasize his longing andadoration for Galatea, which also lures the eye through the image. This reflects John Berger‟s theory that men are the seers and women are the seen. Galatea, on the other hand is seen as the more dominant gender in this sculpture. Although her eyes aredrawn to a point we cannot see, she is not portrayed in a passive and submissivefashion. The angular lines of her body reflect this. To conclude, both Ovid‟s and Beddoes‟ Pygmalion reflect and reinforce their valuesthrough the themes and techniques I discussed above. Patriarchal and sexualdiscourse is present throughout both poems and the gender construction highlightsthe strength of the male sex vs. that of the weaker femal e. On the other hand, Rodin‟s sculpture undermines his context as the male is given the passive role whilst thefemale undertakes an active dominant one.

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Depiction of Pygmalion as a Male Sexist. (2022, Apr 19). Retrieved from

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