Pygmalion

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Alfred Doolittle Character Analysis

Eliza's father, who appears at Higgins' house in Act Two, asking for money (but not too much money) in return for allowing Eliza to stay with him. Eliza doesn't trust her father, and he doesn't seem to show very much fatherly love (although this changes to some degree at the end of the play, when he invites her to his wedding). After Higgins, as a joke, mentions Doolittle's name as Britain's most "original moralist" to a wealthy American named Ezra Wannafeller, Wannafeller leaves Doolittle a substantial amount of money. However, his newfound wealth and social standing irritate Mr. Doolittle, who thinks little of "middle class morality" or the responsibilities brought on by having any significant amount of money, though at the same time he doesn't have the courage to give up his newfound money.

Alfred Doolittle Quotes in Pygmalion

The Pygmalion quotes below are all either spoken by Alfred Doolittle or refer to Alfred Doolittle. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Language and Speech Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Pygmalion published in 2000.
Act 2 Quotes

Is this reasonable? Is it fairity to take advantage of a man like this? The girl belongs to me.

Related Characters: Alfred Doolittle (speaker), Eliza Doolittle
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

Alfred Doolittle, Eliza's father, storms into Higgins' house, demanding to know where his daughter is. He claims to have not seen her for two months, and accuses Higgins of taking his daughter away from him. However, when Higgins dismisses his claims and says he can take Eliza back, Doolittle is shocked at his passivity. In this quote, he presses on, insisting that Higgins is being entirely unreasonable by keeping Eliza away from him. 

This quote is further evidence of Eliza's situation as a girl who is now to be "kept" by Higgins, and who has previously "belonged" to her father. Both men see her as a kind of property, one to be traded and bartered and used as a kind of commodity. Here, neither Higgins nor Doolittle treat Eliza as an actual human being with feelings. Their lack of empathy for Eliza is indicative of Victorian misogyny, and the treatment of women by men and patriarchal structures in general. Higgins' treatment of Eliza is, sadly, less appalling when the reader sees how her father treats her--she is used to being ordered around by an older man. Though she is between a rock and a hard place in terms of male guardians, at least remaining in Higgins' care will allow her a glimmer of hope for a better life. 

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Act 5 Quotes

Who asked him to make a gentleman of me? I was happy. I was free. I touched pretty nigh everybody for money when I wanted it, same as I touched you, Henry Higgins. Now I am worrited; tied neck and heels; and everybody touches me for money. It's a fine thing for you, says my solicitor. Is it? says I. ...A year ago I hadn't a relative in the world except two or three that wouldn't speak to me. Now I've fifty, and not a decent week's wages among the lot of them. I have to live for others and not for myself: that's middle class morality.

Related Characters: Alfred Doolittle (speaker), Ezra D. Wannafeller
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:

Alfred Doolittle is bequeathed an entire fortune from a wealthy American businessman, and suddenly finds himself rising in the ranks of Victorian society due to his money. In this quote, he laments to Higgins that the windfall has ruined his life. 

Eliza and her father provide an interesting comparison for the ways in which "class" is often associated with both good manners and a big bank account, though in this case, Eliza has the manners but no money, and her father has the money but no manners. In both situations, suddenly being thrust into a new life without the full package makes their lives very stressful. Eliza is capable of social mobility but has no idea how to begin, while her father has the means but feels burdened by the amount of people in his life who want to use him.

Shaw here uses the two characters to provide evidence for the old adage that money can't buy happiness--and neither can an upper class accent. Just because one can join the upper crust does not mean it is a happier level of society--just one with more garden parties and "visiting days." Both Eliza and Doolittle rue the day that Higgins interfered in their lives--just because he is a professor, it does not mean he knows how to live anymore than someone from the gutter does. He expects the Doolittles to be grateful to him for their "good luck," but all they want is to go back to the days in which all they knew was what they had. Thanks to Higgins, all they now know is dissatisfaction. 

Nonsense! He can't provide for her. He shan't provide for her. She doesn't belong to him. I paid him five pounds for her.

Related Characters: Henry Higgins (speaker), Eliza Doolittle, Alfred Doolittle
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:

After hearing of Doolittle's newfound wealth, Mrs. Higgins suggests that he can now support Eliza. In this quote, Higgins replies that this is nonsense, since he technically "bought" Eliza for five pounds at the beginning of the experiment.

Despite Eliza's protests, and Mrs. Higgins' reprimands, Higgins still believes that Eliza, as an entity, is entirely indebted to his expertise and generosity. He has never worried about what will happen to her because he simply expected her to continue existing alongside him: he never states that he is fond of her, but merely that he has "grown accustomed" to her presence in his life. Like his different phonetics equipments and academic books, Higgins hopes to "collect" Eliza and keep her alongside him, as evidence of his success and brilliance. He continues to fail to comprehend that she is a separate human being with her own wants and desires, and flippantly expects her to truly remain on Wimpole Street because he gave her food and clothing, and paid her father five pounds. Higgins, as Shaw comments, is "incorrigible" and stubbornly believes that what he thinks is pure truth, and will never accept that he is less than the smartest person in the room, despite loud cries towards the contrary. 

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Alfred Doolittle Character Timeline in Pygmalion

The timeline below shows where the character Alfred Doolittle appears in Pygmalion. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2
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...Eliza's father. Higgins has her bring the man up, eager to learn about his accent. Alfred Doolittle enters and says he wants his daughter back. Higgins immediately identifies where he is from. (full context)
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Mr. Doolittle says that he hasn't seen his daughter in two months, but learned of her whereabouts... (full context)
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Mr. Doolittle has brought some of Eliza's things to the house. Higgins calls Mrs. Pearce and tells... (full context)
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Mrs. Pearce leaves and Mr. Doolittle asks for five pounds in return for letting Eliza stay with Higgins. Pickering and Higgins... (full context)
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Higgins proposes to take Mr. Doolittle in along with Eliza and teach him to speak nobly, but Mr. Doolittle says that... (full context)
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On his way out, Mr. Doolittle runs into Eliza, who is clean and dressed in an elegant kimono. He doesn't recognize... (full context)
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...she says he has only come to get money from Higgins for his drinking habit. Mr. Doolittle prepares to leave. Higgins asks him to come visit Eliza regularly, as part of his... (full context)
Act 5
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The parlor-maid enters and announces that a gentleman named Mr. Doolittle has arrived at the house. Higgins assumes that it is a relative of Eliza's she... (full context)
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Mr. Doolittle is not aware that Eliza is missing, though, and so Higgins is confused as to... (full context)
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Mr. Doolittle is upset at being turned into a wealthy gentleman. He says that he used to... (full context)
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Mr. Doolittle says that now he has to learn proper English from Higgins, and suspects this was... (full context)
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Mrs. Higgins says that Mr. Doolittle can take care of Eliza now that he has money. Higgins protests, saying that Eliza... (full context)
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...will bring Eliza down if Higgins will behave. He sulks, but agrees. Mrs. Higgins has Mr. Doolittle leave the room while she sends for Eliza. (full context)
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Mr. Doolittle sneaks up behind Eliza and surprises her. She cries out, "A-a-a-a-a-ah-ow-ooh!" just as she used... (full context)
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...reluctantly agrees and leaves to get ready for the event. After Eliza has stepped out, Mr. Doolittle tells Pickering that he is nervous, because he has never been married before. He didn't... (full context)
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Eliza returns and Mr. Doolittle leaves to get to his wedding. Pickering asks Eliza to forgive Higgins and come back... (full context)