How does Higgins treat Eliza in Pygmalion?

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juneamy007 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the play Pygmalion, Professor Henry Higgins is a pragmatic professor of phonetics.  His sole "joy" in life is the study of linguistics and how it impacts human interaction.

He treats Eliza Doolittle as a component of an experiment. He is rude and short-tempered with her.  His impatience is not directed at anything she does or does not do, but at her mere mortality.  The agreement to tutor her is not so much to help her as it is to win a bet concerning his abilities.

He is successful in changing her dialect.  However, her attitude is also changed. In the process, she takes on the professor's attitude and that proves to be her undoing.

Though she is grateful for his time and energy, she can not tolerate his abysmal intolerance of humanity and eventually leaves his home.