In act 1. What is the dramatic importance of the Eynsford- Hill family in this act?discuss

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Act I of GB Shaw's Pygmalion serves as the exposition to the different people that will eventually play an important role in the life of Eliza.

The Eynsford-Hill family is a respected and well-to-do clan. At the opening of Act I they seem to have just come out of the theatre at Covent Garden; not a rare thing, since this is a famous form of entertainment among Victorian upper classes just about every night of the week.

Mrs. and Miss Eynsforth-Hill find themselves desperately searching for the elder son, Freddy, who is supposed to be fetching a cab back to their home. We know from the introduction that, although he is a well-to-do and kind man he also seems to be easily manhandled by the women in his family: Both his mother and sister are quite mean to him.

In this Act the dynamics are that Eliza asks the ladies to purchase flowers from her, that Mrs. Eynsford-Hill makes the purchase to the lamentations of her daughter who is an extreme snob. We also know that Eliza somehow names Freddy on a first-name basis and both women question her. However, their dynamics are interrupted when a bystander notices a "note taker" writing everything Eliza is saying. Eliza immediately becomes upset and a row begins.

Yet, in the end Freddy does fetch a cab...for Eliza. In the word exchange we can foreshadow that a certain attraction will eventually surface between them.

FREDDY:[springing out of a taxicab] Got one at last. Hallo! [To the girl] Where are the two ladies that were here?
THE FLOWER GIRL:They walked to the bus when the rain stopped.
FREDDY:And left me with a cab on my hands. Damnation!
THE FLOWER GIRL:[with grandeur] Never you mind, young man. I'm going home in a taxi. [She sails off to the cab. The driver puts his hand behind him and holds the door firmly shut against her. Quite understanding his mistrust, she shows him her handful of money]. Eightpence ain't no object to me, Charlie. [He grins and opens the door]. Angel Court, Drury Lane, round the corner of Micklejohn's oil shop. Let's see how fast you can make her hop it. [She gets in and pulls the door to with a slam as the taxicab starts].
FREDDY:Well, I'm dashed!
We know that, indeed, Freddy will eventually become Eliza's love interest and that they will experience new things together that will help Eliza mature even further.