What social class is shaw criticizing in this act? Note the lines that are examples of character flaws of this class.


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Act III brings a sobering touch of realism back to the play. Standing alone, the bet between Pickering and Higgins seems amusing, worthwhile on humanitarian grounds, and intellectually and practically challenging. Taken in the context of society more generally, a stance which Mrs. Higgins emphasizes, the process is potentially dangerous. The primary function of genteel ladies at this time was to secure a safe and lucrative marriage for themselves, a fact of which we are reminded as Clara eyes Higgins. She views him as marriageable not because she loves him, but because she has calculated thatshe would be a "good catch" monetarily and in terms of his position in society. Eliza has already been made dangerous, however, because she exists outside of this market. Because of her background and lack of pedigree, she is unmarriageable, no matter how charming she may seem. Changing her accent and manner of dress ultimately will cause confusion because it will come out that she is taking part in a slice of society of which she cannot become fully a part-Freddy will only be disappointed. Mrs. Higgins puts it bluntly when she complains that Higgins has given Eliza the "manners and habits which disqualify a fine lady from earning her living without giving her a fine lady's income." The change of setting from the isolated Wimpole Street laboratory into a "society house" makes this shift even starker. Eliza is becoming too good for her old society, and she is not yet good enough for her new society. This gap in the experiment is troublesome, and something must be done about it. It is not clear, however, that the men are fully aware of the problem or that they have a viable solution.