Pygmalion

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Eliza Doolittle Character Analysis

First introduced as the flower-girl in Act One, and called variously Liza, Eliza, and Miss Doolittle, Eliza is the subject of Higgins and Pickering's experiment and bet. While not formally well-educated, she is quick-witted and is a strong character, generally unafraid to stand up for herself. She is a quick learner, and under the teaching of Pickering and Higgins she easily learns to act like a lady and pass as a member of the upper class. It is unclear to what degree she really transforms by doing this, and to what degree she merely learns to play a role. In Act Five, she insists that she really has changed and cannot go back to her old way of behaving or speaking, though Higgins thinks otherwise. Eliza desires independence but finds herself under the control of men like Pickering, Higgins, and her father. At the end of the play, she stands up to Higgins and leaves him, but he is confident that she will come back to him. The play thus leaves it somewhat ambiguous as to whether or not she ever really achieves some of the independence she wants.

Eliza Doolittle Quotes in Pygmalion

The Pygmalion quotes below are all either spoken by Eliza Doolittle or refer to Eliza 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 1 Quotes

A woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere—no right to live. Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and The Bible; and don't sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon.

Related Characters: Henry Higgins (speaker), Eliza Doolittle
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

Eliza becomes angry with Higgins and tells him to mind his own business. Higgins becomes angry with Eliza in return, retorting that her walking around and speaking the way she does is exactly his business. In this quote, he goes so far as to say that a woman who speaks the way Eliza does has "no right to live." 

Higgins represents an extreme of Victorian society, which associated wealth and high status with high morality, and associated the lower classes with dirtiness and a lack of morals. In this instance, without knowing Eliza at all, Higgins decides that she is not worthy of a life because she is a lower class than he and speaks in a dialect that is associated with the lower classes. While he tells her that she is a scourge upon a language that produced great works of literature (although, of course, the Bible—one of Higgins' examples—wasn't originally written in English), he fails to comprehend that her lower status means that she has not had access to the same education he has had the privilege of receiving. To Higgins, appearance is everything, closely followed by birth. Eliza has neither a classy appearance nor notable birth; to him, she might as well be dead. 

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You see this creature with her kerbstone English: the English that will keep her in the gutter to the end of her days. Well, sir, in three months I could pass that girl off as a duchess at an ambassador's garden party.

Related Characters: Henry Higgins (speaker), Eliza Doolittle
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

After astonishing the crowd by telling everyone that he knows where they are from, Higgins contends that he is so skilled in teaching dialects that he could teach the flower girl how to speak like a duchess in three months. 

Higgins' ego as an educated and wealthy man means that while he believes Eliza could pass as a noblewoman, she will never actually be one. In tracing everyone's accents, and taking great pride in doing so, Higgins shows that he believes class is inborn and intrinsic. He takes great delight in teaching other people how to speak nobly, though with his excellent ear, he alone can likely tell that their accents and mannerisms are not completely genuine. While Higgins believes accent and success are intrinsically linked, he holds the Victorian notion that class is something one is born with, not something you can learn or earn. From this idea comes Higgins' delight in the challenge of fooling the upper crust into thinking a lowly flower girl is one of them. Though Higgins is wealthy, he is not noble, and is excited at the notion of using his skill and wit to beat the nobility at their own game. 

Act 2 Quotes

A young woman! What does she want?
Well, sir, she says you'll be glad to see her when you know what she's come about. She's quite a common girl, sir. Very common indeed.

Related Characters: Henry Higgins (speaker), Mrs. Pearce (speaker), Eliza Doolittle
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

The next day, Henry Higgins shows Colonel Pickering around his linguistic laboratory. As the tour completes, Mrs. Pearce, Higgins' housekeeper, comes to tell him that a "common" young woman is at the door and would like to see him. Immediately, the reader/audience knows that it is Eliza.

This quote is telling of how Higgins' prejudice against "common" people is indicative of all of Victorian society, though it is rather extreme in his case. Mrs. Pearce, though lower class than her employer, is still of a higher class than Eliza, and she, too, looks down upon the "common" girl. This shows a hierarchy of classes where all that one requires to look down upon others is to be at least one social rung above. However, it is also telling that Mrs. Pearce will not refer to her as "lower class," but rather, as "common," suggesting that most of society is of this lower class, and to be uncommon is to be part of a special, unique sector of society. 

You know, Pickering, if you consider a shilling, not as a simple shilling, but as a percentage of this girl's income, it works out as fully equivalent to sixty or seventy guineas from a millionaire.

Related Characters: Henry Higgins (speaker), Eliza Doolittle, Colonel Pickering
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

When Eliza asks Higgins to give her elocution lessons, she offers to pay him a shilling per lesson, which she believes to be his going rate (as Higgins is a very wealthy man, it is likely much, much higher). In this quote, Higgins addresses Pickering as if Eliza is not present. This further exemplifies his rudeness towards her: he does not consider her to be of the same intelligence of himself and Pickering, and therefore does not even think to include her in the conversation.

Here, Higgins reasons that as a ratio of Eliza's income, a shilling is comparable to "sixty or seventy guineas from a millionaire." Rather than feeling touched that Eliza would be willing to part with such a large part of her income in order for his expertise, Higgins' merely calculates this ratio for his own amusement. Higgins' interest in Eliza is purely for entertainment, not because he has an investment in bettering her future by "fixing" her speech to a standard that society perceives to be higher class. Comparing Eliza to a millionaire also reveals how Higgins' mind works--he is constantly determining class distinctions in his mind about the people he interacts with. Eliza does not exist as simply who she is, rags and all, but rather within the context of how she stacks up--or doesn't--to the rest of Victorian society. 

Well, the matter is, sir, that you can't take a girl up like that as if you were picking up a pebble on the beach.

Related Characters: Mrs. Pearce (speaker), Eliza Doolittle, Henry Higgins
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

When Higgins orders Mrs. Pearce to burn Eliza's clothes and fetch her new ones, the housekeeper stands up for the young girl and tells Higgins he can't casually "take a girl up" as if he "were picking up a pebble on the beach."

Mrs. Pearce, though class-conscious like the rest of Victorian London, is more sympathetic to Eliza's plight than her employer. As Higgins' housekeeper, she knows his habits and prejudices, and worries that his passing interest in Eliza as a hobby or "project" will result in her danger or harm. Higgins does not think of Eliza as a human, or at least one with similar intelligence to him, but rather as some kind of "creature." Mrs. Pearce can tell he's interested in her as an oddity or curiosity, not in her future, regardless of his protests to the contrary. Mrs. Pearce is crucial as Eliza's only advocate in this situation, and the first person to express concern over Higgins' intentions and Eliza's physical and emotional safety.

Mrs. Pearce's interest in Eliza is also evidence of the gender divide in Victorian England--she, as a woman, feels that she must protect a vulnerable younger woman from the misogyny of Higgins' patriarchal position and views. 

I find that the moment I let a woman make friends with me, she becomes jealous, exacting, suspicious, and a damned nuisance. I find that the moment I let myself make friends with a woman, I become selfish and tyrannical. Women upset everything.

Related Characters: Henry Higgins (speaker), Eliza Doolittle
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

After Mrs. Pearce takes Eliza away to for a bath and new clothing, Pickering asks Higgins about his relationships with women. In this quote, Higgins replies that he does not like to be friends with women for a variety of misogynistic reasons. Though Victorian society was notoriously sexist, with strict gender roles for men and women, Higgins is particularly rude when it comes to his ideas about women. Here, he complains that women whom he is friends with inevitably become infatuated with him, thus forcing him to become "selfish and tyrannical."

Of course, Higgins' rudeness and generally unpleasant demeanor are nobody's fault except his own. Though Higgins utters this statement to prove that his relationship with Eliza will remain purely pedagogical (that of teacher and student), it further reveals his sexist views and helps to explain why he is rudest, in particular, to a young lower-class woman like Eliza. 

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. 

Act 3 Quotes

I shall never get into the way of seriously liking young women: some habits lie too deep to be changed. [Rising abruptly and walking about, jingling his money and his keys in his trouser pockets] Besides, they're all idiots.

Related Characters: Henry Higgins (speaker), Eliza Doolittle
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

Henry visits his mother on a day she is scheduled to entertain other visitors. He asks that she allow Eliza to join in on the visit, to test how she interacts in a group of strangers. Hearing about a girl, Mrs. Higgins suddenly becomes interested, and she asks her son if this young woman is a romantic interest of his. 

In this quote, Higgins immediately dismisses any idea that Eliza is a potential romantic partner. He, according to his mother, never falls in love with anyone under "forty-five," likely because he has an intense disdain for immaturity and naivety. Ironically, he claims that "some habits lie too deep to be changed," although changing habits is exactly at the root of his experiment with Eliza. Higgins believes that he is a singular creature, immune to all of the fallacy of human beings, particularly those that he believes "afflict" women. His prejudices therefore maintain his status as a bachelor. 

Liza: They all thought she was dead; but my father he kept ladling gin down her throat til she came to so sudden that she bit the bowl off the spoon.
Mrs Eynsford Hill: Dear me!
Liza: What call would a woman with that strength in her have to die of influenza? What become of her new straw hat that should have come to me? Somebody pinched it; and what I say is, them as pinched it done her in.
Mrs Eynsford Hill: What does doing her in mean?
Higgins: Oh, that's the new small talk. To do a person in means to kill them.

Related Characters: Eliza Doolittle (speaker), Mrs. Eynsford Hill (speaker)
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

When Eliza is brought before Mrs. Higgins' company, Higgins instructs her to speak about only two topics: the weather and health. Eliza, whose dialect is now upper class but whose small talk is not yet groomed, takes this to mean she can speak about the "barometrical situation" and her theory as to who "done in" her aunt. 

In this quote, Eliza shocks and amuses the crowd with a story about her dead aunt, who curiously survived influenza (thanks to Mr. Doolittle, who ladled "gin down her throat til she came to") but then suddenly died, her hat going missing as well. Eliza was hoping to inherit the hat, and believes that whoever took the hat likely killed her aunt. This decidedly indecorous cocktail conversation shocks and amuses the audience, proving to Higgins that he has a lot more work to do before he can pass her off as a noblewoman at a garden party. 

Though her appearance and speech are well-groomed, the content of Eliza's conversations are not. This shows that in the intervening months, Higgins has tackled how Eliza sounds and looks, but has not paid attention to the fact that she is actually a person who thinks and reasons. He has not though to coach her, specifically, on what Victorian culture is, because he has not thought of her as an equal human with emotions and complex thought. This sitting room test is a rude awakening to what Eliza is--a human--and what she is capable of. A human, Higgins begins to slowly realize, is much more than what one hears and sees on the outside. 

The new small talk. You do it so awfully well.

Related Characters: Freddy Eynsford Hill (speaker), Eliza Doolittle
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

When Eliza enters the sitting room, Freddy is immediately enamored of her. He assures Eliza that she has not said anything incorrect (despite the inappropriate content of her "small talk") and compliments her for tackling new Victorian social norms.

In this quote, Freddy praises Eliza for taking on "the new small talk...so awfully well." When Eliza speaks of inappropriate topics, like unsolved murder and alcoholism, in the midst of upper-crust company, Freddy and Clara are delighted to have an amusing conversation for a change rather the same old "Victorian prudery," as Clara puts it. Saving her feelings, they decide on the fly that she is an advanced practitioner of the "new small talk," which challenges boring Victorian social norms and makes fun, daring topics appropriate for sitting rooms.

This thinking completely defies Higgins' experiment: He wants Eliza to fit in to existing Victorian society, not become a radical within it. Having an older generation, represented by Mrs. Higgins and Mrs. Eynsford Hill, contrasted by the young Clara and Freddy, shows that social norms are highly variable from person to person and even sitting room to sitting room. From Higgins' mold Eliza may be a hit in a garden party but bomb in another situation. This further raises the question of what will happen to Eliza after the experiment is over: the skills to charm a garden party may win Higgins' bet, but they won't satisfy all of Eliza's life goals and desires. This scene shows that Higgins' experiment, though rooted in the "real world," will, to Higgins, only ultimately succeed or fail in the context of his closed laboratory. 

Act 4 Quotes

Well, I feel a bit tired. It's been a long day. The garden party, a dinner party, and the opera! Rather too much of a good thing. But you've won your bet, Higgins. Eliza did the trick, and something to spare, eh?
Thank God it's over!

Related Characters: Henry Higgins (speaker), Colonel Pickering (speaker), Eliza Doolittle
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

The garden party is a success, and Eliza "fools" all of the noblemen into believing she is a duchess. After returning from the party, Pickering and Higgins congratulate themselves on a job well-done, and completely ignore Eliza's presence. In this quote, Pickering and Higgins are smugly satisfied with their work on Eliza, completely ignoring the fact that it was she who was the actual success at the party, not just them. Higgins' comment about being grateful it is over is particularly hurtful to Eliza--it is further confirmation that they were really interested in their fun and games, and not her feelings or future, in initiating this project. She as a "success" story matters very little to them--they are only interested in using their wit and wealth to mold her and amuse themselves. Now, they can move on to whatever else will entertain them, and have little regard for what happens to Eliza now that she has been molded into a semblance of a noblewoman, and cannot return to the "gutter." This quote is evidence of the crass and blasé nature that the two men inspire in each other, in particular the insensitive remarks that Higgins frequently doles out without regard to Eliza's feelings or literal presence in the room.

It was interesting enough at first, while we were at the phonetics; but after that I got deadly sick of it. If I hadn't backed myself to do it I should have chucked the whole thing up two months ago. It was a silly notion: the whole thing has been a bore.

Related Characters: Henry Higgins (speaker), Eliza Doolittle
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

Completely ignoring Eliza's presence in the room, Higgins complains that the experiment had become a bore, and that he would have given up months ago had there not been a bet at stake. In this quote, Higgins speaks incredibly rudely about Eliza in a manner that is particularly unacceptable given that she can hear everything he is saying. His statement that he was only interested in the phonetics aspect of the experiment is further evidence that he only regarded Eliza as an academic curiosity, not as a human--he became "bored," as he claims, of the whole matter once he learned that he actually had to attend to her as a whole human being, not just as a speaking machine, in order to mold her into an entirely new member of Victorian high society. This statement is a new low, even for Higgins: it shows a blatant disregard not just for Eliza as a lower-class woman, but for a human life and mind that he has lived and worked with intimately for six months. Higgins respects Pickering because he believes him to be his moral and intellectual equal; anyone he perceives as inferior and subject to his whims, such as Eliza, might as well not have a mind at all.

I was quite frightened once or twice because Eliza was doing it so well. You see, lots of the real people can't do it at all: they're such fools that they think style comes by nature to people in their position; and so they never learn.

Related Characters: Colonel Pickering (speaker), Eliza Doolittle
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

With Eliza still in the room, Higgins and Pickering continue to speak about her as if she was not present. In this quote, Pickering muses that Eliza learned more effectively than he could have ever imagined, to an extent that he was "frightened" as to how well she performed at the event.

This comment, though on the surface a compliment, is really an insult to Eliza's intelligence: after six months of intensive study, she of course performed well, since she is an intelligent human being capable of learning. Of course, as wealthy, classist, misogynistic men, both Pickering and Higgins drastically underestimated her abilities. Pickering comments that she acted even better than the wealthy partygoers, since as born and bred members of the upper crust, they never actually had to learn manners, but rather believed that all of their actions were worthy of class distinction. Though Pickering typically has been more sympathetic to Eliza's plight than Higgins, this comment shows that both of them fail to comprehend Eliza as a whole human being, not just the superficial product of their amusing endeavors.

I'd like to kill you, you selfish brute. Why didn't you leave me where you picked me out of—in the gutter? You thank God it's all over, and that now you can throw me back again there, do you?

Related Characters: Eliza Doolittle (speaker), Henry Higgins
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

Incensed about Higgins' and Pickering's statements, Eliza throws Higgins' slippers at him in a rage. In this quote, she acknowledges that she has heard everything he has said, and expresses her fury at his sentiments.

Throughout the last six months, Eliza has taken Pickering and Higgins' emotional abuse for the sake of learning how to be a genteel woman so that she might have a better shot at her future than she did before they met. However, all of her rage at their condescension comes to a head after she performs admirably at the garden party, and they pat each other on the back rather than praising her for her excellent work over the past few months. 

Eliza accuses Higgins of being selfish--his statements about being grateful that the experiment was over show that he had no interest in her beyond the amusement she provided. Once the amusement was gone, he has no use for her. Just like Mrs. Higgins warned, neither man considered what would become of Eliza once the project was over. Here, Eliza shows that she, too, is concerned about her life--now that she has been shown what a life of leisure and luxury is, she has the choice of continuing to live with a man who considers her less than human, or returning to the "gutter" in a life of poverty and squalor.  In the intervening months, the two men failed to realize that Eliza's beliefs and goals--not just her appearance and speech--had evolved to be greater than one expects of a flower girl.  

Do my clothes belong to me or to Colonel Pickering?

Related Characters: Eliza Doolittle (speaker), Henry Higgins, Colonel Pickering
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

After fighting with Higgins, Eliza declares that she has no choice but to leave Wimpole Street. In this quote, before she leaves, she asks Higgins if the clothes she is wearing belong to her, or to Pickering, since he was the one who technically paid for her entire transformation. 

As the two men's "doll," Eliza is unsure what is now hers--tangibly, or emotionally--and what is property of Pickering and Higgins. This comment deeply wounds Higgins, since he genuinely did not realize that she felt this complexly about anything, let alone that she was smart enough to realize the sarcasm and condescension entrenched in his treatment towards her. Higgins considers himself charitable for having taken Eliza in, given her fancy things and an upper-crust attitude. By asking whether her clothing is her own or if she must return it to Pickering--presumably, for their next experiment with a girl they find on the street--hurts him, since he feels that she has not been grateful or understood the act of charity. 

Act 5 Quotes

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. 

She had become attached to you both. She worked very hard for you, Henry! I don't think you quite realize what anything in the nature of brain work means to a girl like that. Well, it seems that when the great day of trial came, and she did this wonderful thing for you without making a single mistake, you two sat there and never said a word to her, but talked together of how glad you were that it was all over and how you had been bored with the whole thing. And then you were surprised because she threw your slippers at you!

Related Characters: Mrs. Higgins (speaker), Eliza Doolittle, Henry Higgins, Colonel Pickering
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

After storming out of Higgins' house, Eliza goes to Mrs. Higgins to spend the night and relate her woes from Wimpole Street. In this quote, Mrs. Higgins explains to her son all the ways he has failed his protégé. 

Higgins' views of wealth and class meant that he felt that his work on Eliza was very generous, and that it was he who succeeded at the garden party, not her--similar to the way he would have been proud of himself for publishing an academic paper, not for the paper due to its personal achievements. Eliza, however, is a human being, and feels that her own achievements have been completely ignored. Everyone besides Pickering, it appears, sees very clearly how poorly Higgins has treated Eliza, including his own mother. Higgins' disdain for young women meant that though he worked with Eliza, he never truly got to know her, since he didn't feel like she was worth it. Yet when she became angry at him, he felt very hurt, since he had assumed she felt fondly for him and grateful for his "service." Higgins can almost, but not quite, be forgiven for his behavior, since he is completely ignorant of how his actions and words affect others. However, his refusal to believe other people when they tell him he has misbehaved qualifies Shaw's statement that the character he has created is utterly "incorrigible." 

But do you know what began my real education?
What?
Your calling me Miss Doolittle that day when I first came to Wimpole Street. That was the beginning of self-respect for me.

Related Characters: Eliza Doolittle (speaker), Colonel Pickering (speaker)
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

Amidst the fight in Mrs. Higgins' house, Eliza turns to Pickering and expresses her affection towards him. Compared to Higgins, he was highly respectful towards her throughout the experiment (if exceedingly immature in intentions), and in this quote, she notes that her "real education" towards becoming a lady began when he called her Miss Doolittle, rather than Eliza or a flower-girl.

Here, Eliza reveals that it is not phonetics or etiquette lessons that ultimately led to her transformation, but rather the respect that acting in socially acceptable ways earned her. Though Higgins did not believe that he could do anything more than pass her off as a duchess, the respect that Eliza felt from society went deeper than appearances, and allowed her to finally realize that she could have higher goals beyond selling flowers. In this aspect, Higgins' experiment both help and hurt: it gave her the means to dream higher than she ever had before, and to experience self-respect and self-standards, though Higgins' crass attitude towards her emotions and intelligence severely dampened her self-esteem and spirits. Thus, it appears to have been Pickering whose kindness pushed Eliza through the experiment, and inspired her to take a stand against Higgins when he acted so rudely upon its completion. 

Liza: Freddy loves me: that makes him king enough for me. I don't want him to work: he wasn't brought up to it as I was. I'll go and be a teacher.
Higgins: What'll you teach, in heaven's name?
Liza: What you taught me. I'll teach phonetics.

Related Characters: Eliza Doolittle (speaker), Henry Higgins (speaker)
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:

Eliza and Higgins continue to bicker about their mutual woes regarding their time together, and Eliza argues that she's not so dependent on Higgins as to be stuck with him, and reveals her plan to marry Freddy and teach to support him. Higgins scoffs at the notion, mocking both the idea that Eliza would work at all and the idea that she might have any knowledge that she could teach to others. 

Eliza has at least learned one good thing beyond proper phonetics: she has learned that she deserves better than what she has received from Higgins. To try and make her own way in the world, she decides, is worth the struggle, rather than remaining in the lap of luxury and guarded by a pretentious man who does not respect her intelligence and emotions. Ultimately, Eliza is successful in the experiment beyond Higgins' imagination – she has both presented herself as, and become, a superior moral being than when she first arrived at Wimpole Street. Yet Higgins' own intellectual, moral, and emotional shortcomings (and his own failure to develop them even as Eliza has developed hers) failed to foresee that this transformation would come along with greater goals and expectations for Eliza and the people around her. Thus, Eliza leaves both Higgins and her old life behind her, in the hopes of finding someone who loves and respects her for who she is, inside and out, and to teach others phonetics, though with far more kindness than she received from her own instructor.  

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Eliza Doolittle Character Timeline in Pygmalion

The timeline below shows where the character Eliza Doolittle appears in Pygmalion. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
...a cab. Freddy protests but then finally goes. As he leaves, he bumps into a flower girl , who calls him Freddy. The mother asks the lower-class flower girl how she knows... (full context)
Language and Speech Theme Icon
Appearance and Identity Theme Icon
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
The flower-girl says that she'll tell the mother in exchange for some money. The mother agrees and... (full context)
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The flower-girl asks the gentleman to buy a flower, but he says he doesn't have any change.... (full context)
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Appearance and Identity Theme Icon
The flower-girl worries that she is in trouble but the man taking notes steps forward and asks... (full context)
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...bystanders think the man is a policeman and tell him not to worry about the flower-girl. One bystander says the man isn't a cop, but rather a "blooming busybody," and the... (full context)
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Education and Intelligence Theme Icon
...how he knows where everyone is from, and he answers that he studies phonetics. The flower-girl tells the man to mind his own business, and the man gets angry with her,... (full context)
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The note-taking man then says to the gentleman that the flower-girl's accent and dialect will keep her in the lower class, but that he could teach... (full context)
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Higgins and Pickering leave to get dinner together. Higgins reluctantly gives the flower-girl some money. Freddy finally returns with a cab, only to find that his mother and... (full context)
Act 2
Language and Speech Theme Icon
Appearance and Identity Theme Icon
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
Education and Intelligence Theme Icon
...and exactly what her accent is. The girl enters and Higgins recognizes her as the flower-girl from the previous night. (full context)
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Appearance and Identity Theme Icon
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...frustrated because he has already recorded her accent, and tells her to leave. But the flower-girl says that she has come for another reason. She offers to pay for speaking lessons.... (full context)
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Education and Intelligence Theme Icon
Femininity and Gender Roles Theme Icon
The flower-girl says her name is Eliza Doolittle, and offers to pay a shilling for lessons. Higgins... (full context)
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Amused by Eliza, Pickering offers to pay for her lessons and bets Higgins that he can't teach Eliza... (full context)
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Higgins tells Mrs. Pearce to wash Eliza, throw out her dirty clothes, and get new ones. Eliza protests and Mrs. Pearce tells... (full context)
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Higgins says that when he is done teaching her, Eliza will have countless men courting her. Eliza thinks Higgins is mad and says she won't... (full context)
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Higgins says that Eliza is "no use to anybody but me," and tells Mrs. Pearce that she can treat... (full context)
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Eliza is upset and prepares to leave, but Higgins gives her a chocolate and promises her... (full context)
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Higgins tells Eliza that she will live with him for six months, learning how to speak like a... (full context)
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Eliza protests as she leaves, saying she hasn't asked for any of this. Once she is... (full context)
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Pickering tells Higgins that if he is involved with teaching Eliza, he will feel responsible for her. Higgins assures him that he considers his student "sacred."... (full context)
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Mrs. Pearce asks Higgins to behave with good manners while Eliza is around—for example, not to come to breakfast in his dressing-gown and use it as... (full context)
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...leaves but returns quickly, saying that a man is at the door claiming to be Eliza's father. Higgins has her bring the man up, eager to learn about his accent. Alfred... (full context)
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Mr. Doolittle has brought some of Eliza's things to the house. Higgins calls Mrs. Pearce and tells her that Mr. Doolittle has... (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 are shocked at his willingness to sell his own... (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 he wants to stay... (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 her and says,... (full context)
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Eliza and her father get into an argument as she says he has only come to... (full context)
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Mrs. Pearce enters and tells Eliza that she has more clothes for her to try on. She leaves eagerly, saying "Ah-ow-oo-ooh!"... (full context)
Act 3
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Higgins tells his mother about Eliza and says that she is to sit with Mrs. Higgins and her friends today and... (full context)
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...he looks familiar 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... (full context)
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...supposed to be civilized. Mrs. Higgins tells him to mind his manners, and just then Eliza arrives. Eliza behaves elegantly and politely, as she meets everyone. Mrs. Eynsford Hill thinks Eliza... (full context)
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Higgins finally realizes where he knows the Eynsford Hills from. Everyone discusses the weather and Eliza begins to slip back into her lower-class speech habits. She makes the mistake of talking... (full context)
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To the shock of the other guests, Eliza describes her father's drinking habit. Not only is it an inappropriate topic of conversation, but... (full context)
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After Eliza leaves, Mrs. Eynsford Hill is distressed over Eliza's manner of speaking, which Clara tells her... (full context)
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...prepare to leave, and Higgins encourages Clara to try out the new fashion of speaking (Eliza's). Clara calls the Victorian obsession with manners "bloody nonsense," which shocks her mother. The Eynsford... (full context)
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...she is not up to date with "the latest slang." Higgins asks his mother if Eliza was presentable, and Mrs. Higgins says she isn't. She says there is no hope of... (full context)
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Mrs. Higgins asks about the state of Higgins' home, and learns that Higgins, Pickering, and Eliza are all living together now with Mrs. Pearce. Mrs. Higgins tells the two men that... (full context)
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Pickering assures Mrs. Higgins that they take Eliza very seriously, and Higgins calls her "the most absorbing experiment I ever tackled." The two... (full context)
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Mrs. Higgins says that Eliza will have all "the manners and habits that disqualify a fine lady from earning her... (full context)
Act 4
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It is midnight at Higgins' house. Eliza, Higgins, and Pickering all enter, tired and dressed formally. Eliza is quiet, as Higgins and... (full context)
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Higgins says he knew Eliza would be fine, and tells Pickering that he has long been bored with the experiment,... (full context)
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Preparing for bed, Higgins tells Eliza to turn out the lights. Eliza is becoming increasingly upset. Higgins can't find his slippers... (full context)
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Eliza calls Higgins a "selfish brute," and says that now she will be thrown back "in... (full context)
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Eliza regains her composure, but is still upset. She wonders what will happen to her now.... (full context)
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Higgins is annoyed by Eliza's comment, and tells her she doesn't have to marry. He says Pickering can set her... (full context)
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Higgins is offended at the question, but Eliza says that she has to be mindful of such things, because she is a commoner.... (full context)
Act 5
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...are downstairs, telephoning the police. Mrs. Higgins tells the maid to go upstairs and tell Eliza that Higgins and Pickering are here. Higgins bursts in and tells his mother that Eliza... (full context)
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Mrs. Higgins tells her son to calm down and says that Eliza has the right to leave his house when she wants. Pickering enters, having spoken with... (full context)
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...Mr. Doolittle has arrived at the house. Higgins assumes that it is a relative of Eliza's she never told him about, but it actually turns out to be her father. Mr.... (full context)
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Mr. Doolittle is not aware that Eliza is missing, though, and so Higgins is confused as to why he is mad at... (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 belongs to him, since he... (full context)
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...them for having talked about how glad they were that their experiment was over, when Eliza had become attached to them and had worked hard for them. Pickering concedes that he... (full context)
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Eliza enters and is very polite, which is baffling to Higgins. He tells her to "get... (full context)
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Eliza tells Pickering that she is grateful to him for teaching her proper manners, unlike Higgins,... (full context)
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Eliza thanks Pickering for always treating her well, concluding that "the difference between a lady and... (full context)
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Pickering tells Eliza to curse back at Higgins, but she says she cannot now. She says that she... (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 to, and Higgins is... (full context)
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Pickering encourages Eliza to go to the wedding. Eliza reluctantly agrees and leaves to get ready for the... (full context)
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Eliza returns and Mr. Doolittle leaves to get to his wedding. Pickering asks Eliza to forgive... (full context)
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Higgins explains to Eliza that he is rude to everyone, regardless of social class, whereas Pickering is polite to... (full context)
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Higgins says that he will miss Eliza if she leaves. He says he has grown fond of her. He tells her to... (full context)
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...and live with her father if he doesn't do everything she wants him to do. Eliza wishes that she were a simple flower-girl again, under the control of neither Higgins nor... (full context)
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Higgins offers to adopt Eliza, or marry her to Pickering. Eliza says she doesn't want this, as Pickering is too... (full context)
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Eliza says she is not interested in anyone making anything of someone else, whereas that is... (full context)
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Higgins tells Eliza that if she can't deal with his coldness, she can leave and return to her... (full context)
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Eliza responds that if she can't have kindness from Higgins, she'll have independence. She says she... (full context)
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Just then, Mrs. Higgins returns and tells Eliza a carriage is ready to take them to her father's wedding. Mrs. Higgins says that... (full context)