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The ending of this excellent play has puzzled many over the years, who find it very ambivalent. Although this play promises to be a romance, we are given no romantic ending between Eliza and Higgins. Instead, the conclusion of their relationship is left very open at the end. However, the central theme of the play revolves around social standing and how it is gained. Eliza has successfully moved from being a poor flower-girl to acting like "a duchess," yet as Eliza says herself in a very perspicacious comment, "the difference between a lady and a flower-girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated." Self-respect is the key to transformation, and from the moment that Pickering referred to her as "Miss Doolittle," Eliza's process of transformation had begun. Respectability, as modelled by the other ladies in the play, is what Higgins has taught Eliza, and is shown as something that can be taught. Yet self-respect is something more intrinsic and leads to the development of a free-thinking character that is able to grow. Eliza by the end of the play has learnt the difference between the two states, and having learnt both of them, is able to judge between them. Self-respect is shown to be much more important than respectability, as Eliza's new found confidence demonstrates.
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