Does Professor Higgins love Eliza? How do we know?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Great question! Professor Higgins never acknowledges any deep feelings for Eliza in the play. What he does admit is that he has grown accustomed to Eliza's voice and appearance and that he rather likes the lady Eliza has become. However, he does not declare his love for her despite his...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Great question! Professor Higgins never acknowledges any deep feelings for Eliza in the play. What he does admit is that he has grown accustomed to Eliza's voice and appearance and that he rather likes the lady Eliza has become. However, he does not declare his love for her despite his admission that he will miss her if she decides to leave.

Professor Higgins asserts that he has his own 'soul,' his own 'spark of divine fire.' In short, he is adverse to displaying any sort of vulnerability; his independent and stubborn nature will simply never allow it. Professor Higgins only admits that he has become fond of Eliza but unfortunately, not fond enough to propose marriage to her. When Eliza accuses him of not caring for her, Professor Higgins argues that he cares about life and humanity. He is genuinely surprised that this isn't enough for Eliza.

What Eliza is getting at is that she needs a good reason to stay with Professor Higgins. She brings up the fact that Freddy Hill loves her. Upon hearing this, the professor becomes furious. He strongly maintains that Freddy is beneath Eliza. Here, Professor Higgins fails to discern the nature of the problem. Eliza asserts that 'every girl has a right to be loved' and if not loved, at least regarded with consideration and mutual affection by those she respects.

For his part, Professor Higgins fails to see why this is necessary. He sees his relationship with Eliza as a sort of platonic partnership that can be mutually beneficial. As long as both benefit from such an arrangement, he sees no reason to change his brusque and abrupt ways. He is adamant that Eliza must learn to appreciate what she has in him instead of wanting more. Eliza, on the other hand, is not satisfied with the professor's stance.

So, does Professor Higgins love Eliza? Perhaps not in the romantic sense. However, he does admit being fond of her, which is certainly not the same as love.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team