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What is middle-class morality in Pygmalion?

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Middle class morality, as defined by Alfred Doolittle, is the need to uphold certain bourgeois moral standards in order to hold onto class privileges.

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In Pygmalion, middle-class morality is the expectation of proper behavior for those belonging to the middle class. This term is developed into opposition toward the looser moral standards of the lower classes.

Eliza's father, Alfred Doolittle, goes into the subject when trying to squeeze money out of Higgins when he learns Eliza is living in his house. Because Alfred is poor, no one expects proper behavior from him. He lives with a woman without the benefit of marriage. He drinks excessively. He does not work. He is perfectly comfortable conning people out of money or even "selling" Eliza to Higgins so he can have more drinking money. For Alfred, his lower-class standing equates to a freedom that the upper-class Higgins or even just middle-class society cannot have because to do so would compromise their privileges.

By the end of the play, Alfred is forced to adopt this middle-class mode of morality because of his newly procured money and position. Now he has to marry his longtime girlfriend just to keep up with appearances. While he enjoys the comforts wealth brings him, Alfred mourns his lost freedoms. He even goes as far as to call living out of wedlock with a woman as "the natural way" as opposed to "the middle-class way" of officiating a relationship with marriage.

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What does middle class morality mean to Alfred Doolittle in Pygmalion? 

Alfred Doolittle has had a long history as a ne'er-do-well when he becomes the beneficiary of Ezra D. Wannafeller, an American philanthropist, and suddenly finds himself receiving four thousand pounds a year in income. This catapults him into the very well-to-do middle class. This means he is pressured to adopt middle-class morality. He finds this morality confining and annoying.

For example, he is now expected to marry the mother of his children in order to be accepted as respectable, whereas when he was poor, nobody cared whether he was married or not. He is annoyed too because now his relatives, who had before ignored him, have come clamoring around wanting his acquaintance in the hopes he will give them or leave them money. Further, doctors are now finding all sorts of things wrong with him for which he needs costly medical treatments, whereas before they hadn't had the least interest in his health. He finds middle-class expectations that he behave in a certain "upright" and responsible ways, such as by marrying, acknowledging his relatives, and taking care of his health, a burden and a bother.

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What does middle class morality mean to Alfred Doolittle in Pygmalion? 

Alfred Doolittle is a person who has clearly gone wrong with his life. He treats his daughter poorly as evidenced by the fact that she's a bit scared of him, even though she's not afraid to speak her mind to him when he is being difficult. He drinks all the time, which leads him to be on the streets looking for money for that one last pint of ale. Further, he's about to get married and he sees that as his life coming to an end as he knows it. In terms of the middle class, he is seen as very lowly according to the upper class people of the story. He is everything that Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering despise about those lower than them. After all, he's the one who taught Liza to speak as she does!

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