in pygmalion how does shaw show the change of Eliza.


Eliza- main CHARECTER

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"Through the concept of "Visible Speech," Shaw hits on the two aspects of theater that can make the greatest impression on an audience: sight and sound. Therefore, the transformation of Eliza Doolittle is most marked and obvious on these two scales. In regard to both these senses, Pygmalion stays faithful to the most clichéd formula of the standard rags-to-riches stories, in that the heroine changes drastically in the most external ways. However, while Eliza certainly changes in these blatant external ways, these changes serve as a mask for a more fundamental development of self-respect that Eliza undergoes. Because Higgins only ever charts "Visible Speech," it makes him liable to forget that there are other aspects to human beings that can also grow. But in the possible loss that Higgins faces in the final scene, and in is inability to recognize that loss as a possibility at all, the play makes certain that its audience sees the tension between internal and external change, and that sight and sound do not become measures of virtue, personality, or internal worth."


When she is transformed from a sassy, smart-mouthed kerbstone flower girl with deplorable English, to a (still sassy) regal figure fit to consort with nobility, it has less to do with her innate qualities as a heroine than with the fairy-tale aspect of the transformation myth itself. In other words, the character of Eliza Doolittle comes across as being much more instrumental than fundamental. The real (re-)making of Eliza Doolittle happens after the ambassador's party, when she decides to make a statement for her own dignity against Higgins' insensitive treatment. This is when she becomes, not a duchess, but an independent woman; and this explains why Higgins begins to see Eliza not as a mill around his neck but as a creature worthy of his admiration.



In George Bernard Shaw's play, Pygmalion, Henry Higgins teaches the flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to speak like a member of the British upper class. He makes a bet with Colonel Pickering that he will pass Eliza off as a lady at a party after six months of lessons. After the bet is won, however, Eliza confesses that it is the example set by Colonel Pickering that allowed for such a successful performance at the party.

Higgins' and Pickering's Influence

With his ability to discern any British accent, Henry Higgins is a gifted linguist. He believes that the only requisite to being a member of the upper class is the way in which one speaks. He is mistaken, however, as Eliza points out. Higgins never would have been able to win his bet had he alone instructed Eliza. It was the behavior exhibited by Pickering that allowed Eliza to understand the proper manners to use when among the upper class.

It is not simply Colonel Pickering's manners that influence Eliza. In Act V, Eliza says that "the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she's treated" (Shaw 120). She goes on to say "I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will; but I know I can be a lady to you, because you always treat me as a lady, and always will" (120). Eliza demonstrates the true difference between the upper and the lower class lies in the way in which they are treated by others.

Although Colonel Pickering modestly concedes that it would have been impossible for Eliza to learn to speak like a princess had it not been for Professor Higgins, she merely responds, "Of course: that is his profession" (119). This contrasts the subtle, almost natural tendency of Colonel Pickering to present himself as a gentleman to everyone regardless of social class. These subtle actions taught Eliza more about etiquette than any lesson Higgins taught her.

Higgins' Defense

Henry Higgins is offended by Eliza's judgment of his character. He claims that he is as indiscriminating as Colonel Pickering. When Eliza says the Colonel Pickering treats a flower girl like a duchess, he retorts by saying that he treats "a duchess as if she was a flower girl" (124). Higgins is the same to everyone. This is the painful truth for Eliza who seeks approval and appreciation from Higgins for working so hard to win his bet for him.

While Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering have a great influence on Eliza Doolittle, Higgins is generally unchanged at the end of the play. As Eliza is leaving, his last remark to her is a request. The stage direction says "[h]is cheerful, careless, vigorous voice [shows] that he is incorrigible" (132), demonstrating his lack of remorse for his behavior and treatment of other people regardless of social class.


Works Cited Shaw, George Bernard. Pygmalion. New York: Pocket Books, 1916, 2005.

In ''Pygmalion'', Henry Higgins is Shaw's pygmalion and Eliza Doolittle is his Galatea. Henry Higgins teaches Eliza how to speak proper english and shapes her to fit into the middle class morality from a ''guttersnipe'' just as pygmalion creates a beautiful statue from an ugly piece of rock. While the transfomation of Eliza is in process Higgins uses many phoenetical instruments such as a phonograph, a laryngoscope, a row of tiny organ pipes with a bellows, a set of lamp chimneys for singing flames for burners, etc.

When Eliza first comes to Higgins to learn how to speak properly, professor Higgins asks her to leave immediately and even asks Colonel Pickering ''shall we ask this baggage to sit down, or shall we throw her out of the window?'' because she spesks cockney and does not know how to behave properly. She is a ''squashed cabbage leaf'' as professor Higgins describes her.

Shaw also presents other instruments in the process of transforming Eliza. When Mrs. Pearce informs that the visitor(Eliza) has a horrible dialect, Higgins takes it as an opportunity to show Pickering how he makes records, ''we'll set her talking; and I'll take it down first in Bell's visible Speech; then in broad Romic; and then we'll get her on the phonograph'' as he explains it to Pickering.

After training Eliza for three months, they decided to try out her improvement and takes her to Mrs.Higgins' house where she proved that she has learned to speak properly but at the same time she has not learned 'what and what's not' to talk about. She even uses the word ''bloddy'' when Freddy asks her if she would like to walk across the park.

Finally the time came for her to prove herself at the ambassador's garden party where she fooled everybody including the hairy faced Hungarian who claims to speak 32 distinct languages and that he can place a ''man anywhere in London the moment he opens his mouth.'' Even the hostess was very much imrpessed with Eliza's personality and remarks that ''she must be a princess at least.''


''Pygmalion'' Goerge Bernard Shaw. Rama Brothers India Pvt. Ltd.