George Bernard Shaw Pygmalion Essays On The Great

On By In 1

Changes in Eliza in Pygmalion

  • Length: 983 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - More ↓

Changes in Eliza in Pygmalion



Before Eliza first encountered Mr. Higgins, she was simply a dirty, yet caring girl in the gutter of London. During her time with both Mr. Higgins and Colonel Pickering, Eliza did change, for the fist few weeks of her stay in Wimpole Street, she questioned everything that Higgins asked her to do, and generally couldn't see how they would help her. Later, Eliza begins to understand that Higgins, as harsh as he is, is trying to do his best to teach her, and therefore should be respected. After the ambassador's ball, we see more of the old Eliza resurfacing. She starts to worry again, and since she has grown attached to Higgins and Pickering, is devastated to see their finding her so trivial. Eliza's basic character remains relatively unchanged. We can still observe the old Eliza, under the upper-class persona. The play, "Pygmalion" brings out the message that looks can be extremely deceiving, while touching on the issue that self presentation really does change the way people look at you.


Act I of the play first introduces the reader to the rich of London. The author, Bernard Shaw, uses these well moneyed citizens to display the contrast between them and Eliza. In this act, Eliza has yet to be introduced to the world of the rich, and is portrayed by Shaw as in innocent dreamer. Eliza is concerned for her own safety, in making sure that it was know that she only wanted to sell a flower to the gentleman. She is persistent in a kind way; the reader sees this when she tries eagerly to sell to the gentleman without change. It becomes apparent that she is very poor, and needs success from her flower selling to live a life at all. Eliza shows great pride in her line of work, and that she stays above the law, not resorting to illegal prostitution or stealing. The introduction of Higgins taking down Eliza's speech gives the author a further chance to display Eliza's will to stay innocent and good. Another way that Shaw shows us the real Eliza is in the way that she starts crawling over the dirty ground to locate the money thrown down at her by Higgins.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Changes in Eliza in Pygmalion." 13 Mar 2018

LengthColor Rating 
Does Eliza Become a Lady in In George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’ Essay - George Bernard Shaw who was born in Dublin in 1856, was a renowned play writer and a talented platform speaker. He is most famously known for his successful play ‘Pygmalion’ which was widely accepted as one of the most noted comedies of the time. It was written two years before the 1st world war, at a time when society was divided and the poor were severely disadvantaged whilst the rich were idle and blindly living their life, unconcerned about the affairs of others. At the time, Britain had thriving economy and it was a successful country because of its industry, trade and empire....   [tags: George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion, classism, ]
:: 3 Works Cited
2691 words
(7.7 pages)
Term Papers[preview]
Eliza's Transformation in Shaw's Pygmalion Essay - Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw is a play that shows a great change in the character Eliza Doolittle. As Eliza lives in poverty, she sells flowers to earn her living. Eliza does not have an education. This shows through the way that she does not have the most proper way of speaking. This happens through when Eliza is speaking to the other characters when she meets then when she is still at a low level of poverty in her life. To understand the reasons Eliza is able to change and be changed into an almost Cinderella like character....   [tags: George Bernard Shaw]2234 words
(6.4 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Essay about The Ways Eliza Changes Over the Course of the Play - The Ways Eliza Changes Over the Course of the Play The play "Pygmalion" by George Bernad Shaw is one of the famous English plays in the world. The main theme and name of the play was taken from Greek Myth, called "Pygmalion", which a beautiful woman sculpture became a real woman. In contrast, the main story of this play is that a young flower girl Eliza Doolittle became a duchess in the ambassador's party. During the play, she's changing in many ways from the start to at the end, and the changes of Eliza, the main theme of this play, should be mentioned in this essay....   [tags: Papers]554 words
(1.6 pages)
Good Essays[preview]
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw Essay - Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw George Bernard Shaw's father, George Carr Shaw, was an alcoholic which meant not much money was spent on Shaw's education, therefore he was mainly self-taught, since he was self-taught he never had ideas forced upon him, this caused him to turn into a strong minded individual who expressed his opinions. He was a socialist and a critic who believed strongly in equality. Shaw wrote many plays, which expressed his opinions, one of the most famous being Pygmalion....   [tags: Pygmalion George Bernard Shaw Essays]1237 words
(3.5 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion Essay - Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion The passage taken from Act 2 of Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion marks a critical turning point in the plot line and character development of the novel. The characters of Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins, who have met earlier by mere coincidence, have now deliberately begun a relationship, due to various motives. Eliza wants to move up in the hierarchy of society and Henry wants to prove his talent to Colonel Pickering. The extract is significant because it initiates a long learning process for Eliza and because Henry changes the next six months of his life, if not the rest of it....   [tags: Bernard Shaw Pygmalion]1100 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Essay about Evolution in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion - Evolution in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion   In the play, Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw, Professor Higgins, an expert in the art of speech, bets Colonel Pickering, another master of phonetics, that he can take a common flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, and pass her off as a duchess at an ambassador's Garden Party. During this story, Shaw uses the characters to demonstrate the necessity of human evolution. As Eliza's verbal ability increases, so does her personality and self-esteem; and Higgins's failure to recognize her changes leads to a severe strain on their relationship....   [tags: George Bernard Shaw Pygmalion Essays]
:: 4 Works Cited
1530 words
(4.4 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Essay about Comparing Pygmalion and My Fair Lady - Comparing Pygmalion and My Fair Lady Through the years, countless film directors have adapted and recreated various novels and plays to make them ideal for the big-screen. In many cases, directors strive to keep their screenplay adaptations true to the original literature; however, viewers often find contrasts in certain areas of the film. George Bernard Shaw, author of the play Pygmalion, who had passed away prior to the production of My Fair Lady in 1964, therefore, he could not assist in the transition from play to musical....   [tags: My Fair Lady Pygmalion Compare Contrast Essays]
:: 5 Works Cited
1023 words
(2.9 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Essay about The Analysis of the Transformation of Eliza - The play "Pygmalion" describes the process of the transformation of Eliza, who appears in three images in the story: Eliza begins as a flower girl, then she transforms into a lady with noble accent and in good manners, then an independent woman with self-respect and dignity. By naming his drama "Pygmalion," Shaw reminds people of the ancient Pygmalion Myth. Pygmalion, a sculptor, makes a beautiful statue and falls in love with his own creation. He prays that life may be granted to it. The gods give him his wish....   [tags: American Literature]892 words
(2.5 pages)
Good Essays[preview]
Essay on Pygmalion a Play by Bernard Shaw - Pygmalion is one of Bernard Shaw’s most famous and beloved plays, which he published in London in 1912. This play was written during the Edwardian era which was characterised by major political, social and economical changes. Politically, the reign of king Edward VII witnessed a relative involvement of social segments such as labourers and women in political life. Socio-economically, the British society was marked by a strict and a clear-cut social class system in the early twentieth century. During this period and up to First World War, it was believed that 1% of the British population owned approximately 70% of the country’s wealth....   [tags: class differences, ancient greek]1422 words
(4.1 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Pygmalion Essay example - Shaw’s play "Pygmalion" and the movie "Born Yesterday" both explore many of the same issues and characteristics. They are similar because they both portray that what other people think should not matter as much as what you think of yourself but, what show yourself to be is how people will think and view of you. This is shown by similarities between the characters Billie and Eliza and the combined attitudes of Harry and Paul to Henry Higgins. They also both share the plot of taking someone who does not belong and changing them to belonging....   [tags: essays research papers]866 words
(2.5 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]

Related Searches

Eliza         Pygmalion         Way People         Higgins         Deceiving         Dreamer         Sure         Display         Ambassador         Caring        

The way that Eliza is so very grateful indicates her real kindness and simple mission to live any sort of life. She now realizes that she can ask Mr. Higgins to help her fulfill her dream and become a lady in a flower shop: an occupation for which she is not visually or phonetically suited.


In Higgins's study at the start of act II, Eliza feels that she has to impress Higgins by making sure he knows that she arrived in a taxi. Eliza doesn't understand the way that Mr. Higgins treats people, she thinks, as would any normal person, that he is being particularly mean to her specifically. She quite rightly gets very upset when Henry Higgins rambles on about her money, and wanting to throw the "baggage" out of the window. Eliza shows little emotion towards the wager set by Pickering; she merely thanks him for offering to pay for the lessons. During her lessons, Eliza is worked to such an extent that she comes to resent Higgins more than a student should a teacher. Her hatred towards the man soon lightens as she realizes that she can only accomplish her dream of working as a lady in a flower shop Higgins can shape her into a lady. Higgins made Eliza more aggressive in the way that he treated her. She was very good at bottling up her anger towards him, she tried to put it away and saw Higgins as a good friend. She didn't realize that Higgins took pride in his challenge, not in his student. Or that Higgins saw her only as a student, nothing more. Pickering, on the other hand, does show respect to Eliza, as he would anyone. Eliza says later that it was Pickering that allowed her to be a lady, teaching her through example how to be well mannered.


For Higgins and Pickering the ambassador's ball was a great success. Eliza, on the other hand, had fulfilled her purpose as far a Higgins was concerned. She was merely a tool used to enhance Higgins reputation in society. Having shown absolutely no appreciation towards Eliza, Higgins kept boasting about his success, and failed to acknowledge Eliza, besides the one time he did, which was simply to make clear that it was not Eliza the won his bet, but it was himself. Eliza is shattered upon hearing this. Higgins had drilled into Eliza that she was a lady, she would speak like a lady and also that she would act like a lady. What he had not realized, because he shows the same level of selfishness to everyone, was that he had slowly been making Eliza a stronger person, as illustrated by Shaw in Eliza's throwing the slippers at Higgins. Eliza finally stands up to Higgins and uses his own tactics against him.


Higgins did change Eliza. Originally she was a kind innocent girl trying to stay alive in the gutter of London. Higgins through the introduction to high-society had altered Eliza's way of thinking. It was good for Eliza to become stronger as she did. It was good that Mr. Higgins finally had something go wrong for him. Eliza was changed by her interactions with Higgins. Now at the end of the play, she becomes overpowering to Higgins, her beauty becomes murderous as Higgins realizes that she is leaving. It took the threat of Eliza leaving for him to see his true feelings towards her. He is portrayed to the end as an ignorant fool, when even after all is said and done; he still hides his feelings mocking Eliza for wanting Freddie.


Throughout his career, George Bernard Shaw agitated for the reform of the vagaries of English spelling and pronunciation, but his assertion that Pygmalion was written to impress upon the public the importance of phoneticians is immaterial. Pygmalion, like all of Shaw’s best plays, transcends its author’s didactic intent. The play is performed and read not for Shaw’s pet theories but for the laughter its plot and characters provoke.

The play is a modern adaptation of the Pygmalion myth (although some have claimed that it is a plagiarism of Tobias Smollett’s The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, 1751), in which the sculptor-king Pygmalion falls in love with Galatea, a creature of his own making, a statue that the goddess Aphrodite, pitying him, brings to life. The Pygmalion of Shaw’s play turns up as Henry Higgins, a teacher of English speech; his Galatea is Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl whom Higgins transforms into a seeming English lady by teaching her to speak cultivated English. In the process of transforming a poor, uneducated girl into a lady, Higgins irrevocably changes a human life. By lifting Eliza above her own class and providing her with no more than the appurtenances of another, Higgins makes her unfit for both. On this change and Higgins’s stubborn refusal to accept its reality and its consequences, Shaw builds his play.

From the beginning, when Higgins first observes her dialectal monstrosities, Eliza is characterized as a proud, stubborn girl, though educated only by the circumstances of her poverty and gutter environment. She has the courage to ask Higgins to make good his boast that he can pass her off as a duchess within a matter of months, and she calls on him and offers to pay him for elocution lessons that will enable her to work as a saleswoman in a flower shop. Like all the proud, she is also sensitive, and she tries to break off the interview when Higgins persists in treating her as his social inferior.

Higgins can best be understood in contrast to Colonel Pickering, his foil, who finances the transformation. As a fellow phonetician, Pickering approves of the project as a scientific experiment, but as a gentleman and a sensitive human being, he sympathizes with Eliza. It is Higgins’s uproariously tragic flaw that he, like all of Shaw’s heroes, is not a gentleman. He is brilliant and cultured, but he lacks manners and refuses to learn or even affect any, believing himself to be superior to the conventions and civilities of polite society and preferring to treat everyone with bluntness and candor. He is, or so he thinks until Eliza leaves him, a self-sufficient man. When he discovers that she has made herself an indispensable part of his life, he goes to her and, in one of the most remarkable courtship scenes in the history of the theater, pleads with her to live with Pickering and himself as three dedicated bachelors. At the end of the play, he is confident that she will accept his unorthodox proposition, even when she bids him good-bye forever.

As a matter of fact, Shaw himself was never able to convince anyone that Eliza and Higgins did not marry and live happily ever after. The first producer of the play, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, insisted on leaving the impression that the two were reconciled in the end as lovers, and this tradition has persisted. Enraged as always by any liberties taken with his work, Shaw wrote an essay that he attached to the play as a sequel in which he denounces sentimental interpretations of Pygmalion. He concedes that Pygmalion is a romance in that its heroine undergoes an almost miraculous change, but he argues that the logic of the characterization does not permit a conventional happy ending. Higgins is, after all, a god and Eliza only his creation; an abyss separates them. Furthermore, Shaw contends, their personalities, backgrounds, and philosophies are irreconcilable. Higgins is an inveterate bachelor and likely to remain so because he will never find a woman who can meet the standards he has set for ideal womanhood—those set by his mother. Eliza, on the other hand, being young and pretty, can always find a husband whose demands on a woman would not be impossible to meet. Therefore, Shaw insists, Eliza marries Freddy Eynsford Hill, a penniless but devoted young man who has only an insignificant role in the play. Stubbornly, Shaw does not even permit them the luxury of living happily ever after: They have financial problems that are gradually solved by their opening a flower shop subsidized by Colonel Pickering. Shaw’s Pygmalion is too awe-inspiring for his Galatea ever to presume to love him.

Even with the addition of this unconventional ending to the play, Pygmalion would be highly atypical of Shavian drama were it not for the presence of Alfred Doolittle, Eliza’s father. Through Doolittle, Shaw is able to indulge in economic and social moralizing, an ingredient with which Shaw could not dispense. Like Eliza, Doolittle undergoes a transformation as a result of Higgins’s meddling, a transformation that in his case is, however, unpremeditated. Early in the play, Doolittle fascinates Higgins and Pickering with his successful attempt to capitalize on Eliza’s good fortune. He literally charms Higgins out of five pounds by declaring himself an implacable foe of middle-class morality and insisting that he will use the money for a drunken spree. Delighted with the old scoundrel, Higgins mentions him in jest in a letter to a crackpot American millionaire, who subsequently bequeaths Doolittle a yearly allowance of three thousand pounds if he will lecture on morality. Thus this dustman becomes transformed into a lion of London society, and the reprobate becomes a victim of bourgeois morality. Although he appears only twice in the play, Doolittle is so vigorous and funny that he is almost as memorable a comic character as Higgins.

The play itself is memorable because of its vigor and fun, notwithstanding Shaw’s protestations about its message. It is likely that Shaw insisted so strenuously on the serious intent of the play because he too realized that Pygmalion is his least serious and least didactic play. In 1956, Pygmalion was adapted into the Broadway musical My Fair Lady; the musical, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, was extremely successful, and several revivals have been produced since that time. A film version of My Fair Lady, starring Audrey Hepburn as Eliza and Rex Harrison as Higgins, was released in 1964.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *