In Pygmalion, how does the behavior of Liza and Clara compare to Mrs. Higgin's lady-like behavior at her tea party?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The the tea party in Pygmalion during Mrs. Higgins "at home," there isn't very much dialogue given to Mrs. Higgins, however she does say a lot before and after the tea party. The tea party is short and is mostly monopolized by Miss Doolittle. An examination of Mrs. Higgins' deportment shows she is a lady who thinks of how her remarks and behavior affects or will affect other people. This awareness of a person's affect on others is way she has banished Henry from her at homes. An examination of Liza's deportment shows she is absolutely unconscious of the affect her remarks and behavior have on other people. In this regard, she is precisely like Professor Higgins and precisely unlike Mrs. Higgins. Clara shares this trait of unawareness with the pair in that she too has no idea that her remarks and behavior mark her as unpleasant, though wealthy and well-bred, arrogant and ill-mannered.

Another trait Mrs. Higgins displays is a readiness to come to the defense and support of one who is under her patronage, even if only a guest at her tea party for a few minutes. When Liza waxes lyrical about her father's drinking habits and fears from the general laughter that she has done something improper, Mrs. Higgins jumps instantly to her aid by saying simply but graciously and eloquently, "Not at all, Miss Doolittle." The only comparison we can make with Liza is that when laughed at, she doesn't take umbrage (offense or annoyance) but continues in the same sweet and open spirit and tone--regardless of subject matter. The only comparison to Clara is that, having admired Liza's lovely looks and elegant clothes greatly, after Liza has left, Clara rapturously expresses herself as won over by the "new small talk" that Higgins asserts Liza is speaking, thus branding herself as shallow, petty, pretentious, credulous and gullible.

katirosee | Student

This is such a strange question. I just had to answer it for the same exam you do, probably. I said that Eliza swears and discusses a subject that is not fit for ladies to discuss. Clara likes this "new slang" and starts to swear as well, to the horror of her mother.

Mrs. Higgins, on the other hand, does not swear and discusses only the weather and others health, to try to get Eliza back on track.

I'm not sure how correct that is, but the behaviors of Mrs. Higgins, Eliza and Clara are hardly relatable. Good luck!