What is the character analysis and role of Mrs. Pearce in Pygmalion?

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Mrs. Pearce provides a way into the drama and its characters for the audience. She gives us a little glimpse beneath the surface of other characters in the play, especially Henry Higgins. It is through Mrs. Pearce that the contradictions of Higgins's complex personality are revealed. As well as calling...

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him out for his breathtaking arrogance and rudeness, Mrs. Pearce forces Higgins to confront his singular lack of self-awareness; he wants to change Eliza, but perhaps, she subtly insinuates, he should start with himself.

As with most of Shaw's audience members, Mrs. Pearce is middle-class. This is important as it gives the audience a voice, a means of articulating the generally negative feelings they hold towards Higgins and the corresponding sympathy they feel for Eliza. But as Eliza starts to grow in poise, confidence, and self-respect, there is no longer any further need for a character on stage to express our sympathy for her. It is notable, then, that Mrs. Pearce's role in the play diminishes accordingly, as now Eliza, neither the humble Cockney flower-girl she once was, nor quite the lady of quality of Higgins's imagination, has effectively become a younger version of Mrs. Pearce: respectable, middle-class, and more than capable of standing up for herself.

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Mrs. Pearce, who is considered to be one of the minor characters, is the housekeeper to the Higgin’s household. But her roles in Pygmalion are much more than that as she is a teacher, protector, a mother figure, and admonisher. Mrs. Pearce can often be heard expressing her dismay at Henry Higgins lack of manners as he presents at the table in his dressing gown and not using the proper utensils when he eats. In spite of his lack of  manners and indifferent, sometimes unpredictable, temperament, she does find herself taken in by him. She expresses her concern about his “experiment” with Eliza Doolittle, which in her opinion is wrong. Mrs. Pearce comes to have motherly feelings towards Eliza and tries to shelter her all the while she admonishes Henry Higgins about the lack of human understanding he shows toward the lower class young lady. Eliza does not understand his indifference toward her and Mrs. Pearce attempts to be the go between.

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