How important is the role of Colonel Pickering in Shaw's Pygmalion?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In many ways, Colonel Pickering is a viewpoint character for the audience of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. While he is knowledgeable about language, being the author of a major text on Sanskrit, he does not let his intellectual curiosity take over his life or predominate over his sense of ethics and human sympathy. Unlike Higgins, he sees Eliza as a person as well as an experiment. Eliza says that while Higgins taught her to make the correct sounds of upper class English, it was Pickering who taught her what it meant to be a lady by treating her like one. He is the ideal of the English gentleman in the play, and serves as a model against whom we can judge the rest; thus he is quite important.

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