What happens during the Ambassador's garden party in Pygmalion

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Though the ambassador's garden party is not actually staged, it plays a significant role in Shaw's play Pygmalion . During the garden party, which takes place months after the start of Eliza's education under Professor Higgins, Eliza is able to convince others that she has the poise and elocution of...

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Though the ambassador's garden party is not actually staged, it plays a significant role in Shaw's play Pygmalion. During the garden party, which takes place months after the start of Eliza's education under Professor Higgins, Eliza is able to convince others that she has the poise and elocution of a duchess. Her elegant behavior means that Higgins has won his bet with Colonel Pickering.

According to the post-party conversation between Higgins and Pickering, Eliza has impressed the other partygoers with her beauty and her manners. Eliza's social success is only superficial, as it means something vastly different to her than to the men involved in her transformation. To Eliza, her training leaves her with no obvious place to go, as she no longer fits in with her own people who speak and comport themselves like she used to, prior to her lessons with Higgins. To the men, her comportment merely means a game well-played.

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The Ambassador's garden party is the culmination of what might appear to be the major plot arc of the play. Higgins has made a bet with Colonel Pickering that he will be able, in six months of language instruction, to pass off Eliza Doolittle, a cockney flower girl, as a Duchess in high society. The Ambassador's garden party is chosen as the setting in which this feat will be accomplished. Not only has Eliza had lessons in language and deportment, but she is exquisitely dressed wearing expensive rented jewelry. 

In the original version of the play, the garden party scene was not shown on stage but Eliza's triumph was discussed in Higgins' house after the two men and Eliza had returned home after the party. Shaw later added a scene in which Eliza and Higgins meet Nepommuck, one of Higgins' former students, at the embassy party, Although Higgins is concerned that Nepommuck will discover the ruse by means of his linguistic expertise, Nepommuck only surmises that Eliza is an Hungarian duchess because her English is far more perfect and precise than that of native speakers. Eliza is widely admired at the party.

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