Describe the transformations Eliza Doolittle undergoes in Pygmalion? How do these transformations affect the ways that others think about her and behave towards her?

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Eliza Doolittle undergoes various transformations as she is changed from a poor, Cockney, downtrodden flower girl to a lady who is desired by men of social standing.This transformation occurs under the tutelage of Professor Henry Higgins, a linguist, with the help of his friend and fellow linguist, Colonel Pickering. The...

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Eliza Doolittle undergoes various transformations as she is changed from a poor, Cockney, downtrodden flower girl to a lady who is desired by men of social standing.This transformation occurs under the tutelage of Professor Henry Higgins, a linguist, with the help of his friend and fellow linguist, Colonel Pickering. The wager that Higgins makes with Pickering begins Eliza's changes at the onset of the play: "Well, sir, in three months I could pass that girl off as a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party" (act 1).

When she shows up the next day, Higgins describes her as "so deliciously low—so horribly dirty—" (act 2). Eliza then begins the metamorphosis from an uneducated street vendor to a lady, starting with her physical appearance and language, and ending with self-realization. Eliza's first transformation entails learning how to speak proper English and acting like a lady. When Freddy meets her later on in the play, he is captivated by Eliza even though her transformation is still superficial and not complete.

However, the largest transformation occurs towards the end of the play when Eliza tells Pickering, "The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she’s treated" (act 5). She realizes her self-worth even if it means giving up Higgins because he affirms that he will give her no more than "good fellowship." Eliza has gained self-acceptance and realizes that she cannot accept any less than what she deserves from Higgins: "If I can’t have kindness, I’ll have independence" (act 5). Eliza becomes a strong, secure woman in her own right.

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Eliza Doolittle is transformed from a poor, lower-class Cockney flower seller to a lady, showing that social class is only skin (and accent) deep. Henry Higgins bets that by dressing her in fine clothes, teaching her manners, and most all, coaching her in an upper-class accent, he can pass her off as upper class to the highest echelons of society. In this, he succeeds. 

As a result of having the right clothes, manners, and accent, Eliza becomes accepted and admired by middle and upper class society. Whereas she was scorned, despised, and seen as lesser when she had a Cockney accent and cheap, dirty clothes, now she is treated as an equal.

But Eliza undergoes a deeper transformation. She develops a sense of self-worth. She answers back to Henry at the end of the play when he insults her and orders her around. Her confidence means men fall in love with her, and because Henry himself still won't change, Eliza confronts him with his own snobbery and insists she is a worthy human being.

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