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How do stereotypes of the lower class infuence the way Higgins treats Lisa?

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mysterymania | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 26, 2012 at 12:45 AM via web

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How do stereotypes of the lower class infuence the way Higgins treats Lisa?

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sunshine250495 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 18, 2012 at 4:09 PM (Answer #1)

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Bernard Shaw through his play 'Pygmalion' revolts against the social class hiearchies which are mostly based on language and also social stereotypes. We can get a glimpse of the normally enforced stereotypes in Act II after Eliza arrives in Wimpole Street. Higgins' views on marriage can be used as an example:

Dont you know that a woman of that class looks a worn out drudge of fifty a year after she is married?

Here Higgins immediately assumes that a married woman in lower class has to work hard or is ill-treated by her husband, but at the same time his ocmments point out the difficulty of raising a family in poverty. He again stereotypes Eliza when he says:

She'll only drink if you give her money.

Here Higgins immediately assumes that just because Eliza is from the lower class she has a drinking problem. While this is true in case of Alfred Doolittle and his mistress, this is not the case for Eliza, and thus Higgins is wrong to assume so. Throughout the play he treats her as an ignorant, stupid girl who is beneath his standard. Eliza works hard to please him but he starts taking her for granted, cheerily assured that she has no feelings he needs to worry about. 


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