What is the purpose of Alfred Doolittle's visit to Higgin's house? For what reason does he initially fail?

Act 2

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Liza's father, Alfred Doolittle, arrives at the house. Higgins amazes Alfred by immediately guessing that his mother was Welsh. Undeterred, Alfred claims that he wants his daughter back. Higgins says that she is upstairs and that her father may have her at once.

Higgins, seeing that Alfred has brought his daughter her luggage, asks him why he would do that if he wanted to bring Liza back home. In not too subtle language, Alfred says that he does not mind if Liza becomes Higgins's prostitute so long as he gets some money out of it, too. He asks for five pounds. He adds that his life is very hard because he is one of the "undeserving poor."

The appearance of Eliza's father in this act is quite important, because we realize just how rough a background Eliza comes from. She is an illegitimate child whose father is a dustman willing to pimp his daughter. Doolittle, whose name is a pun on the fact that he hardly works, defines himself explicitly as a member of the undeserving poor. Despite the humor that arises when Doolittle explains that he is no less deserving than a widow who collects from a number of different funds for the death of the same husband, the man's joke holds a grain of truth. As a socialist, Shaw was concerned with all of the poor, not just the working or bereaved poor.