In Pygmalion, how do Clara and Eliza present themselves as ladies at Mrs. Higgins' "at-home"?

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In Pygmalion Clara and Eliza approach presenting themselves with the appearance of being ladies from two vastly different frames of reference. Clara, though not of the highest social circles herself due to her mother's sorely limited income, associates with those circles. Eliza, by contrast, prior to her contact with Higgins, has never had any contact at all with better social classes except to try to sell them flowers on the street corner. This means that when Clara tries to present herself as a lady at a social event like Mrs. Higgins' at-home she can well do it, within the limits of her personality, temperament and education.

When Eliza tries to present herself as a lady (at this early stage of her training) she comes at it with misconceptions, limits on comprehension, ignorance of form and subtleties of manner and cannot well do it: She can dress the part and appear the part because of her beauty and to some extent act the part because she can learn to pour tea from a teapot but cannot think the part or speak the part. Though Clara has her own problems with social grace, courtesy of manner, consideration and intelligence, she and Eliza are still worlds apart in the attempt to present themselves as ladies. In the end though, when Eliza's natural good-heartedness combines with the linguistic and social cultivation Higgins has bred in her, she obviously surpasses the gruff, unpleasant, ill-mannered Clara in presenting herself as a lady.

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Clara and Eliza attempt to appear as ladies at Mrs. Higgins' at-home. Contrast their behavior to that of Mrs. Higgins in Pygmalion.

Pygmalion is the story of language and class and culture--both high and low.  In this scene, unlike her son, Mrs. Higgins is polite and welcoming, despite the fact that Henry has surprised her with this "experiment."  She is gracious in every way (even though she really tells it like it is to Henry), which is a wonderful  foil for her son's behavior. 

Clara is also a young lady of social standing (though no money), and she should know how to conduct herself in these kinds of gatherings.  Instead, she's rude and disrespectful and very "teen-agery" in her behaviors.  She's neither happy nor content, and everyone around her sees it.  She acts like a petulant child.

Eliza is trying so very hard to be all that Mrs. Higgins is--but it doesn't go so well.  She speaks way beyond the bounds of the subjects she was given, and she amuses them all with her slips into improper English. When they laugh, she gets a bit miffed at them, but she's pretty good-natured about the whole thing in the end.  She has the right attitude but the wrong behaviors.

Neither of these young ladies is able to match the social grace and poise of Mrs. Higgins; however, by far the least socially acceptable behavior in the room is exhibited by Henry. 

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