Metamorphosis of Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

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The Metamorphosis of Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

The benefits of acquiring an education are not limited to the academic aspects often associated with it. Part of the edification it bestows includes being enabled to reach new insight, being empowered to cultivate a new awareness, and being endowed with a new understanding of life and of self. In Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, Eliza Doolittle experiences this type of enlightenment as the result of undergoing a drastic change in social status. With the sponsorship and guidance of Colonel Pickering, Eliza, a common street flower vendor, receives phonetic instruction from Professor Henry Higgins and is transformed into an elegant and refined "duchess" (817). Eliza
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Shaw describes that Eliza is "hysterical" and "much distressed" (807) as she continues to defend the innocence of her intentions. Eliza copes with the situation in a state of being that is emotional, uncontrolled, wild, and frenzied because she is unsure that she is indeed blameless and irreproachable. Eliza's over-sensitivity is the product of her insecurity. For this reason, being "far from reassured" (807) as Shaw describes, Eliza repeatedly affirms her virtue making statements like "I'm a good girl, I am" (808). Although Eliza asserts her pride proclaiming that "[her] character is as good to [her] as any lady's" and that "[she had] a right to be [where she liked]," Shaw describes that she does so "with feeble defiance" (810) which indicates the weak level of confidence she possessed.

By the middle of the play Eliza's self-image has been altered through the enlightenment that comes to her as the result of the education she receives from Henry Higgins and the mannerisms she learns from Colonel Pickering. Eliza gains self-esteem by the merit of her accomplishments, but her self-confidence still lacks strength because she becomes dependent on the reassurance of Higgins and Pickering. Evidence of Eliza's changed personality is found in the play's climatic scene where Shaw uses description to convey her disposition. The "excessive sensitivity" (806) and unwavering pride that was present in Eliza's character at the beginning of the