Eliza as a Strong, Assertive Woman in Pygmalion Essays

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 Eliza as a Strong, Assertive Woman in Pygmalion  

Bernard Shaw’s comedy Pygmalion presents the journey of an impoverished flower girl into London’s society of the early 20th century.  Professor Higgins proposes a wager to his friend Colonel Pickering that he can take a common peddler and transform her into royalty. Eliza Doolittle is the pawn in the wager. But little does Higgins know the change will go far beyond his expectations: Eliza transforms from a defensive insecure girl to a fully confident,strong, and independent woman. When the audience first meets Eliza Doolittle she is a flower girl peddling at 11 PM in front of St. Paul’s Church. The audience’s first impression is one of sympathy because she is
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In the scene with the taxi-man, she appears significantly defensive in her response concerning the cost of the cab ride. Eliza feels humiliated by the taxi-man’s sarcastic response to her. From the start of Higgins and Eliza’s relationship, Eliza is treated like a child. Higgins says to her, "If your naughty and idle you will sleep in the back kitchen among the black beetles, and be walloped by Mrs. Pearce with a broomstick." (p. 36) Higgins treats her like this for months until the audience meets her again in London society. Eliza’s first test is at a luncheon given by Mrs. Higgins. Eliza, who is well dressed, makes a remarkable impression on the lunch guests. They are totally taken by her, especially by her confidence, demeanor and articulation. Eliza can only carry a conversation based on two topics: weather and health. When these fail her, she slips back and appears insecure.

After being presented in London society at a garden party, a dinner party, and the reception at Buckingham Palace, Eliza succeeds. Both Pickering and Higgins agree that, " Oh, she wasn’t nervous. I knew she’d be alright."(p.79) As the men brag about her success, Eliza becomes angry. She snatches up Higgins’slippers and hurls these at him with force. "I’m nothing to you--not so much as them slippers." (p.81) Eliza then walks out on Higgins. She is now confidant and no longer acts like a child, but like a strong woman. In the final scene, Eliza asserts herself. She says, "I
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