An Atypical Romance in Five Acts

On the title page of Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw describes the play as 'A Romance in Five Acts'. Throughout the play, readers might assume that the heroine and hero of Pygmalion will end up romantically together. In fact, a common complaint about Shaw's masterpiece is that, though it he calls it a romance, the protagonists are not, and do not fall in love during the course of the play. Upon closer observation, it is plain to see why the main characters do not end up together. Henry Higgins is not only unfit to marry the poor flower girl he turns into the image of a grand princess, he is unfit to marry anyone at all. Though readers may complain, he will remain a self-proclaimed bachelor.

A major reason why Higgins will never marry is that he does not have the need to marry. Although it may seem odd to readers, Higgins has his ideal of a perfect woman in his mother. When the reader meets Mrs. Higgins in Act III, Shaw describes in great detail her simple and elegant furniture and decorating style. This gives the impression that she is a woman of good taste who manages to be in style without cluttering her home. Presented as the proper hostess, Mrs. Higgins is polite and charming. When Higgins tells his mother that he...

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