Pygmalion

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Clara Eynsford Hill Character Analysis

From a rather wealthy family, Clara is fed up with all of the rules of proper manners for her class. In Act Three, she enjoys Eliza's inappropriate conversation (and tells her mother that it is a new, fashionable form of small talk). She comments that manners are simply a matter of habit, and that there is no such thing as right or wrong manners.

Clara Eynsford Hill Quotes in Pygmalion

The Pygmalion quotes below are all either spoken by Clara Eynsford Hill or refer to Clara Eynsford Hill. 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 3 Quotes

It's all a matter of habit. There's no right or wrong in it.

Related Characters: Clara Eynsford Hill (speaker)
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

After Eliza is hurriedly ushered out of the room, Mrs. Eynsford Hill expresses her horror at Eliza's choice of language. She asks Colonel Pickering what he thinks of her manners. He, having been in India for several years, replies that his manners are somewhat outdated and he cannot say whether she is bawdy or merely of the times.

In this quote, Clara pipes up and says there is no right or wrong way to act in a social setting: it's merely the person's matter of habit that governs how they act. As a young woman, she has her ear to the ground moreso than her mother on what is new fashion and what is old taste. Her mother is shocked by Eliza's words because she has not been used to it, and it is her habit to act more prudishly in public; her daughter, younger and therefore more flexible to the changing times, perceptively states that what is acceptable and not acceptable is not black and white. Rather, each person's personal habits govern whether they perceive something to be acceptable or not for a social setting. 

Clara's reasoning throws a wrench into the philosophy behind Higgins' and Pickering's project: If social norms are variable, then in which direction or for what audience are they grooming Eliza? Clara and Freddy's delight over Eliza's injection of life into an otherwise dull sitting-room conversation shows that Higgins' philosophy and prejudices, though upper class in nature, cater to a very small subset of a rapidly aging-out society. 

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Clara Eynsford Hill Character Timeline in Pygmalion

The timeline below shows where the character Clara Eynsford Hill appears in Pygmalion. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
Femininity and Gender Roles Theme Icon
...pedestrians seek shelter under the portico of a church, including a wealthy woman and her daughter, Clara. The mother and daughter are waiting impatiently for Freddy, Clara's brother, to get a... (full context)
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
Freddy says he has looked all over for a taxi, but the mother and daughter are insensitive to his efforts and tell him to go look again and not come... (full context)
Language and Speech Theme Icon
Appearance and Identity Theme Icon
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
...Freddy because that is how she would refer to any random person she doesn't know. Clara is exasperated at the waste of money. An elderly gentleman comes under the portico for... (full context)
Language and Speech Theme Icon
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
...where everyone is from, to all the bystanders' surprise. The rain begins to stop and Clara and her mother wonder where Freddy is. The man guesses where both of them are... (full context)
Act 3
Language and Speech Theme Icon
Appearance and Identity Theme Icon
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
...friends arrive: Mrs. and Miss Eynsford Hill, who turn out to be the mother and daughter from the first act. Higgins thinks he recognizes Clara, but doesn't remember from where. Colonel... (full context)
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
...but can't remember why. He wonders what everyone will talk about until Eliza arrives, and Clara agrees that she hates small talk. She says she wishes people would say what they... (full context)
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Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
Education and Intelligence Theme Icon
After Eliza leaves, Mrs. Eynsford Hill is distressed over Eliza's manner of speaking, which Clara tells her is merely the new fashion. Mrs. Eynsford Hill still doesn't like it, and... (full context)
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
The Eynsford Hills prepare to leave, and Higgins encourages Clara to try out the new fashion of speaking (Eliza's). Clara calls the Victorian obsession with... (full context)
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Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
As she leaves, Mrs. Eynsford Hill laments to Pickering that Clara is annoyed when she is not up to date with "the latest slang." Higgins asks... (full context)