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in pygmalion how does shaw show the change of Eliza.


aaliyah a #220127
Dec 13, 2011 12:34 PM

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in pygmalion how does shaw show the change of Eliza.

Eliza- main CHARECTER

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jill d #170087
Dec 13, 2011 12:43 PM

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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."



Dec 13, 2011 12:44 PM

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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.



galatea g #326937
Jun 02, 2013 1:58 AM

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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.

Source(s): Works Cited

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


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