Pygmalion

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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer 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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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

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

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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)
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
The flower-girl asks the gentleman to buy a flower, but he says he doesn't have any change.... (full context)
Language and Speech Theme Icon
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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Appearance and Identity Theme Icon
...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)
Language and Speech Theme Icon
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
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)
Language and Speech Theme Icon
Appearance and Identity Theme Icon
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
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)
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
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)
Language and Speech Theme Icon
Appearance and Identity Theme Icon
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
...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)
Social Class and Manners Theme Icon
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)