What drove Eliza to change? What does it mean to be high class?

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In George Bernard Shaw’s didactic, Victorian play Pygmalion, Linguistics Professor Henry Higgins’s perceptive ears are offended by the sound of Eliza’s lowly, Cockney accent, so he wishes to change it into a flawless, pleasant voice that would blend in among high society. Higgins is a sarcastic and rude character who treats Eliza badly throughout most of the play, sometimes not even acknowledging her presence. This brings up the question of why she tolerates his rudeness. What drove Eliza to change? Change is desired when we face conflicts that must be resolved. Another question this play presents is: What does it mean to be high class? Is it as Henry Higgins says it is, that it is just the proper way of speaking? Can the “right” …show more content…
However, Higgins’s belief that he can improve her accent is not rooted in his opinion of Eliza’s capabilities, but rather his own. Higgins would not back down from a challenge and admit that he has his faults and limitations. In fact, his comments about others are often filled with derision and he has an air of haughtiness and complacency about him. The desire of Eliza’s to climb the social ladder is understandable and thus easily relatable. By this point in the Victorian era, people could rise up from their original station in society, which was determined by birth, by working hard and following societal convention. A core argument behind many philosophies and religions is to improve the followers, to enrich their lives—this is simply what most people want for themselves. Revealing this desire of Eliza’s helps the audience to identify with her, which foreshadows the fact that she is the protagonist. Perhaps having Professor Colonel Pickering as a foil to Professor Henry Higgins helped to remind her that not everyone would be so cruel, and perhaps having Freddy in the background helped to reinforce the fact that some people are already captivated by her even before she began to become changed.
As the old adage goes, “Do not judge a book by its cover.” Although it is easy to judge from appearances,

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