Eliza- main CHARECTER
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in pygmalion how does shaw show the change of Eliza.
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.
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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