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In G.B. Shaw's Pygmalion Higgins says, “By George, Eliza, I said I’d make a woman...

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saumyavarma | eNoter

Posted May 14, 2013 at 2:22 PM via web

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In G.B. Shaw's Pygmalion Higgins says, “By George, Eliza, I said I’d make a woman of you; and I have. I like you like this.” How far is Higgins justified in his claim? Evaluate Pickering’s role and Eliza’s own role in her transformation. 

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted May 14, 2013 at 3:32 PM (Answer #1)

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Mrs. Higgins sums it all up perfectly in Act V when she explains to Pickering and her son Henry how the whole project, or experiment on Eliza's transformation, developed and succeeded. Mrs. Higgins responds to Henry's and Pickering's bewilderment at Eliza's hurt feelings:

"Just so. She had become attached to you both. She worked very hard for you, Henry! I don't think you quite realize what anything in the nature of brain work means to a girl like that. Well, it seems that when the great day of trial came, and she did this wonderful thing for you without making a single mistake, you two sat there and never said a word to her, but talked together of how glad you were that it was all over and how you had been bored with the whole thing. And then you were surprised because she threw your slippers at you! I should have thrown the fire-irons at you" (Pygmalion, Act V).

In this simple summation of the situation, Mrs. Higgins shows that Eliza worked very hard to learn what she was taught. Without an eager student, a teacher can do nothing, really. In fact, it was Eliza's idea in the first place! She was the one who asked for lessons from Mr. Higgins, but it was he and Pickering that made it into a wager and more about themselves than her. All along the way it was about Higgins proving how wonderful he was and not giving Eliza any credit. At times Pickering gave Eliza consoling words, though, which helped; but in the end, it was a team effort. Each character added to the development of Eliza's learning and growth. If it weren't for Pickering, Mrs. Pearce, and Mrs. Higgins who helped Eliza through her difficult sessions with Henry, she would have gone berzerk from his dictatorial attitude and techniques long before seeing any success.

 

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