What is the importance of education in Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw?
It's worth noting that Eliza did not, in fact, receive an education of any real substance, but was taught the surface mannerisms an educated woman of the age might affect. Although she was taught how to speak like a lady, the opinions she related in social situations were comically empty. She also realized later in the play that this cosmetic change rendered her unfit for her old profession as a curbside flower vendor, but didn't prepare her for any newer or more remunerative profession. She didn't learn any business skills, for example, or a skilled trade. Even Higgins thought her best option was for Col. Pickering to set her up in a shop somewhere.
Her best prospect, which Shaw spelled out in the play's textual coda, was to run off with Freddie, a similarly unemployable bit of fluff with a surface veneer of sophistication and little in the way of substance or prospects. (She may have briefly returned to fetch Professor Higgins his slippers once, but certainly did not stick around to do it twice!) She did possess the self-awareness to see her predicament, but I suspect the rest of her life hinged on the survival skills she learned long before she met our Professor Higgins!
check Approved by eNotes Editorial