Characterisation of Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins in Shaw's Pygmalion

1742 Words Mar 10th, 2013 7 Pages
Pygmalion is written by dramatist, playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw in the year 1912 and was first published in the year 1913. The drama revolves around three main characters – Eliza Doolittle, Professor Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering – who are all striving towards the same goal. That is, they want to be able to pass Eliza off as a Duchess rather than the flower girl from the London slums that she actually is. It starts as just a bet on the part of the Professor and the Colonel, but it is a struggle for a better, upper-middle class life on the part of Eliza. She is enticed by not only the idea of becoming part of the recognizable society of the time, but also at the prospect of having actually found a person who would ‘help’ …show more content…
Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech… don't sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon." It is thought that anyone who can deliver such splendid invective is admired for his or her brilliant, spontaneous use of the English language, and especially when it is directed against so lowly a person as this flower girl from the slums. But in a play dealing with manners, no proper gentleman would utter such condemnations. Later, we find out that Colonel Pickering treated Eliza properly from the very first. But in spite of his bad manners, Higgins is clever, and the audience does admire his cleverness, even at the expense of a flower girl from Tottenham Court Road.

There is also a semse on liking towards an eccentric character like Professor Higgins because he is George Bernard Shaw's creative rebel who floats through many of Shaw's dramas. Higgins rejects middle-class moralities. He admires “do-nothing” Doolittles for their honesty in asserting that they are the undeserving poor, he will devote his scientific skill to changing a flower girl into a duchess, he is ultimately interested in the soul of his creation (Eliza can be compared to the modern version of Galatea from the Greek Mythology) and not in her pronunciation, and he is devoted to improving the human race by his own scientific methods. And, last, we cannot deny his charm: Mrs. Pearce, his housekeeper, has often threatened to…