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Ezra D. Wannafeller Character Analysis

The wealthy American who leaves money to Mr. Doolittle in his will. He stands in for the American idea of meritocratic social mobility—the belief that those who work hard can move up the social ladder—as opposed to Victorian ideas of natural social hierarchy which hold that people are born into the social position they deserve. The inheritance he leaves Mr. Doolittle allows Doolittle to become a gentleman, though ironically Mr. Doolittle hates his newfound wealth.

Ezra D. Wannafeller Quotes in Pygmalion

The Pygmalion quotes below are all either spoken by Ezra D. Wannafeller or refer to Ezra D. Wannafeller. 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 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. 


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Ezra D. Wannafeller Character Timeline in Pygmalion

The timeline below shows where the character Ezra D. Wannafeller appears in Pygmalion. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 5
Appearance and Identity Theme Icon
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon mad at him. Doolittle says that Higgins mentioned him to a wealthy American named Ezra D. Wannafeller , who founded Moral Reform Societies across the world. Higgins had joked that Mr. Doolittle... (full context)