pygmalion
george

Throughout the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, the character Eliza goes through many changes. Being educated by Higgins and Pickering leads to her biggest change, finding her self-respect.

In Act One, Eliza has no self-respect for herself. She has no pride or self-esteem, she cannot take care of herself, she is poor, dirty, and does not have clean clothes. “ A woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere—no right to live.” (Act One Scene One) Higgins’ also calls her a creature that will stay in the gutter for the rest of her life and an incarnate insult to the human language. She is not affected by these words and phrases because she has no respect for herself and the words do not mean anything to her.

In Act Two, Eliza starts the changing process. For once she finally takes a bath, she puts on new clothes, and combs her hair. She is clean. “Aint you going to call me Miss Doolittle any more?” (Act Two Scene Three) This is the first step of Eliza finding her self-respect, she wants to be called Miss Doolittle; it gives her pride. Her education with Higgins starts and he teaches her how to speak and act like a duchess.

In the last three Acts of the play, Eliza does find her self-respect. At Mrs. Higgins’ party, the Parlormaid also referring to her as Miss Doolittle greets Eliza at the door. Every time she hears “Miss Doolittle,” it increases her self-esteem. In the fourth Act, after her successful performance at the Ambassador’s Party, Eliza becomes aware of her own self-worth and her difficult situation when she hears Pickering and Higgins speaking about the night. She responds “You don’t care. I know you don’t care. You wouldn’t care if I was dead. I’m nothing to you—not so much as them slippers.” (Act Four Scene One) She finally understands Higgins’ disregard for her feelings and her future. In Act Five Eliza states that her real education and self-respect comes with Pickering referring to her as Miss Doolittle. She says that all the little things like opening a door for her, standing up, and taking off his hat in her presence taught her that if people have respect for her, she should have respect for herself.

Eliza stated that the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not by how she behaves, but by how she is treated. Eliza is treated very well by Pickering, and educated well by Higgins. Both of these were reasons why she changed so much, and why she found her self-respect.