This play examines social roles–specifically being a lady? What goes into being a lady according to this play? What does Eliza learn about being a lady?


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Although British society is supposed to break down along class lines, Shaw makes a point of highlighting gender loyalties in this play. Although Mrs. Higgins initially is horrified by the idea that her son might bring a flower-girl into her home, she quickly grows sympathetic to Liza. As a woman, she is the first to express a concern for what will be done with the girl after the experiment--the idea that her training makes her highly unmarriageable by anyone anywhere on the social scale. When Liza runs away from Wimpole St., she instinctively knows that Mrs. Higgins will take good care of her. Higgins's mother sides with Liza before even her son, not revealing that Liza is in the house while Higgins is dialing the police.

In contrast, relations between people of opposite genders are generally portrayed by Shaw as antagonistic. Higgins and his mother have a troubled relationship, as do the professor and Mrs. Pearce. Freddy and Liza get along better perhaps only due to his more passive, feminine demeanor.