Character Essay On Eliza, Pygmalion

Topics: Working class, Social class, Middle class Pages: 12 (4636 words) Published: April 29, 2001
A Character Essay on Eliza: Pygmalion The story of Pygmalion is based on a classical myth, and Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion plays on the complicated relationships in a social setting. Professor Henry Higgins takes Eliza Doolittle to teach her the art of phonetics and to refine her manners. Eliza was, at first a poor flower girl, but by the end of the play, is transformed so much, she is even mistaken for a duchess. It is obvious throughout the play that Eliza is changing in many aspects; the most obvious being her diction, for this is what the play is based on.

In Act 1, Eliza is simply a poor flower girl who just happens to meet the phonetics professors, who decide to take her under their wings, to transform her as part of a bet between friends. Eliza is a very poorly spoken girl in Act 1, and Shaw uses the method of her pronunciation to spell the words she speaks. She also appeared very rude in front of the public. She said to The Mother "˜Ow, eez ya san, is e? Wal, fewd dan y'dooty"¦' It was not right for a young girl to question a mother's ability to look after her children. She said to Higgins "˜You ought to be stuffed with nails' this was a particularly rude thing to say to a stranger. She also interrupted people-particularly Higgins "˜Let him mind his own business and leave a poor girl-' Females were still seen as the lesser sex, and a poor girl should not have interrupted a well-respected man. Eliza was far inferior to Higgins, in almost every way possible, this means Eliza should show respect for Higgins, and certainly not be rude to him.

Eliza clearly had no money, and used any method possible to earn some "" this included begging. She had mastered the art of cajoling people to give her money. Her methods included making people pity her "˜buy a flower off a poor girl' and "˜buy a flower, kind gentleman. I'm short for my lodging.' She flatters people who she thinks might buy some flowers with a little persuasion, and she is very persistent. If people make excuses, such as "˜I really haven't any change' she replies with "˜I can give you change for a tanner, kind lady' Eliza also pestered people, if they said they had no money, she managed to flatter them, and persuade them enough, to give them what they had. Eliza seems to be very good at her job, and this makes me feel she has been doing it for a long time, and has mastered the art perfectly.

Eliza was demeaned throughout the opening scene, in the way that people thought less of her simply because she was a lower class citizen. She actually had a very light spirited personality, but because she was a "˜beggar' people would not get to know her. Eliza had a very low self-esteem, she tried to persuade even herself that "˜I'm a good girl, I am'.

Eliza had a very poor background, she received no form of education, and so would probably have been a flower girl since a young age, in order to earn the money to survive. She was treated with no dignity whatsoever, and I think this made her feel insecure. She jumped to the wrong conclusion when she realised her words were being written down, and immediately began defending herself. This showed her insecurity. "˜I aint done nothing wrong by speaking to the gentleman.' She shows her confidence, and her argumentative side when she believes a policeman is watching her, but she is unable to construct her arguments in a concise and comprehendable way. She simply repeats over and over that she "˜aint done nothing wrong' and she pleads with people to help her. In fact, this makes her seem more and more guilty. She does appear brave here though, for she believes she is speaking to a policeman, she is trying to defend herself. "˜Oh, sir, don't let him lay down a charge"¦' Most people would not stand up to a policeman, for they are usually intimidated by them, but Eliza is determined that she will not be punished.

Eliza seems to be concerned more with practicalities than with her sanitation, for we later learn she has never...
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