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How Does The Relationship Between Eliza Doolittle And Henry Higgins Change Throughout The Play? Pygmalion By George Bernard Shaw Also Known As My Fair Lady

1212 words - 5 pages


Pygmalion is a play based on the Greek myth of a sculptor named Pygmalion who said that he didn't like women. One day he creates a statue of a beautiful woman, and regrets saying that he didn't like women. Aphrodite turns the statue into a real woman so her and the sculptor marry and spend the rest of their lives together. Bernard Shaw has put a `modern' twist on this myth using Higgins as Pygmalion, Eliza as the statue/woman and Pickering could also be seen in some ways as Aphrodite. This essay will explain and analyse how Eliza herself and her relationship with Mr Higgins changes throughout the play.

At the very beginning of the play, Eliza treats Higgins as a true gentleman as she wants something out of him - for him to buy a flower from her. This starts to become quite a theme in Pygmalion - people needing things from each other e.g. Mr Doolittle gets money from Mr Higgins for his alcohol. As the play continues, Eliza begins to realize that although Higgins is rich, clever and successful, that he is the rudest person she has ever met. She might have thought from then that no matter what, she would never end up as rude as him. At the end, she mentions that it wasn't the lessons Higgins gave her that changed her from a flower girl into a duchess but the respect, manners and appreciation that Colonel Pickering showed her from the very beginning.

The main characters in Pygmalion, Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins, first met each other in Convent Gardens, both sheltering from the rain outside a church. Higgins was taking down everything that the flower girl said, and her first instinct was to panic and say that she had done nothing wrong. This makes her seem very vulnerable and is proof that she is of a lower class than the gentleman and the note-taker (Pickering and Higgins).

When Henry Higgins asks, "Shall we ask this baggage to sit down, or shall we throw her out of the window?" he is showing no respect towards her and doesn't seem like a gentleman himself, though his job is teaching people how to act in a higher class way.

At first, Eliza and Henry didn't get on very well as they belonged to different classes and didn't really understand each other, e.g. Eliza repeatedly saying, "I'm a good girl, I am" and Higgins' instant curiosity when a bystander used the phrase "a copper's nark". Another example was when Mrs Pearce tries to give Eliza a bath, but she kept saying how cruel they were to give her a bath and make her clean. Higgins refuses to come down to Eliza's level, so he brings her up by teaching her how to speak the English language `properly'.

Whilst Eliza is having a bath during Act 2, Higgins says to Pickering, "I find that the moment I let myself make friends with a woman, I become selfish and tyrannical" this reveals that Higgins would much prefer to get on with his life alone. He thinks that women upset and ruin...

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