The Note Taker: A woman who utters such depressing and
Disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhereــــno 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. …
The Flower Girl: What’s that you say?
The Note Taker: Yes, you squashed cabbage leaf, you
Disgrace to the noble architecture of these columns, you
Incarnate insult to the English language: I could pass you off
As the Queen of Sheba. (Act 1, p.62)
This quotation is taken from Act 1 in G. B. Shaw’s play,
Pygmalion (1914). It is a conversation between Henry
Higgins, a professor of phonetics, and Eliza, a common
Girl selling flowers, near St. Paul’s Cathedral in London
Where they meet by chance. Higgins is disgusted about
Eliza’s bad English and considers her an incarnate insult to the English language’. He says these words in the presence
Of Colonel Pickering, another phonetician of Indian
Eliza’s pronunciation of English is so horrible that Higgins describes it as ‘depressing and disgusting’ and
Likens it to the ‘crooning of a pigeon. He denies Eliza the right to live as long as her English is so bad. Moreover,
Higgins reminds Eliza that she, as a human being, is
Supposed to have the God-given gift of ’articulate speech’.
Higgins also reproaches Eliza saying that her native
language is that of the great English poets Shakespeare
and John Milton. It is the superb English language of the
Higgins keeps piling up his insults on Eliza’s head
When he describes her as a ‘squashed cabbage leaf ’and a
‘disgrace to the noble architecture’ of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
However, Higgins suddenly ends his verbal attack on Eliza
By saying that he can pass her off as ‘the Queen of Sheba’.
Earlier in the same situation, Higgins says to Pickering that
he could pass Eliza off as a duchess at an ambassador’s
garden party, or could even get her a place as a lady’s maid or
a shop assistant, but all this requires ‘better English’.
This situation is dramatically significant (important) as it
Foreshadows what will happen later in the first half of the
Play. In Act 2, Eliza goes to Higgins’ apartment to take
lessons in good pronunciation; in Act 3 she receives her first
test of Mrs. Higgins’ At-Home weekly meeting; thereafter
Eliza passes off successfully as a duchess at an ambassador’s
Mrs. Pearce: Will you keep to the point, Mr. Higgins. I want
to know on what terms the girl is to be here. Is she to have
any wages? And what is to become of her when you’ve
finished your teachin? You must look ahead a little.
Higgins: Well, when Ive done with her, we can throw her back to the gutter; and then it will be her business again; so that’s all right.
Liza: Oh, you’ve no feeling heart in you; you don’t care
for nothing but yourself. [She rises and takes the floor
resolutely]. Here! Ive had enough of this. I’m going
[making for the door]. You ought to be ashamed of
yourself, you ought. (Act2, pp.75-76)
This quotation is taken from Act 2 in G. B. Shaw’s
play. Pygmalion (1914). It is a conversation between
Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics, Mr. Pearce, his
housekeeper, and Eliza, a flower-selling girl who has come
to Higgins’ apartment to take lessons in good English pronunciation. This conversation is about what to become
of Eliza when Higgins will have finished his teaching her.
The entire action of the play is set in London in 1914.
Mr. Pearce is worried about what is to become of Eliza
after she will have been educated. How will Eliza earn her
living? How will she live? Higgins says clearly he will
throw Eliza back to the street after educating her, ‘and then
it will be her business again’. Eliza object to Higgins’
answer, accusing him of being unfeeling, carless and selfish.
Later in Act 3, Mrs. Higgins expresses similar worries
about Eliza’s future life; she says to Higgins and Pickering,
‘The problem of what is to be done with her afterwards.’
Higgins answers, ‘She can go her own way. with all the advantages I have given her.’ (page. 111)
Later in Act 4, after Eliza has passed the test of the
embassy garden party successfully and after the experiment
of her education is over, she asks Higgins the same question,
‘What to become of me? Whats to become of me?’ Higgins’
answer in Act 4 and 5 is not exactly the same as it was in
Act 2 and 3; Higgins will not throw Eliza into the street (the
gutter) but will attempt not let her go her own way. Instead,
Higgins does his best to retain Eliza as he is now used to her;
however he will not marry her as he is a confirmed bachelor.
Now Higgins depends on Eliza to remind him of his
appointments and to get his needs instead of his house-keeper,
Mrs. Pearce, Finally, Eliza decides to marry Freddy,
a young man who loves her.
This conversation in Act 2 is dramatically important as
it foreshadows and what happens later in the second half
of the play in Acts 4 and 5. This conversation hints at the
problem of what to become of Eliza after completing her
Mrs Eynsford Hill: I’m sure I hope it wont turn cold
There’s so much influenza about. …
Liza: [darkly] My aunt died of influenza’ so they said. ….
But it’s my belief they done the old woman in.
Mrs Higgins: [puzzled] Done her in?
Liza: Y ــe-e-es, Lord love you! Why should she die of
influenza? She come through diphtheria right enough the
year before. … but my father kept lading gin down her
throat? Somebody pinched [her new straw hat], … them as
pinched it done her in.
Mrs Eynsford Hill: What does ‘doing her in’ mean?
Higgins: [hastily] Oh, that’s the new small talk. To do a
person in means to kill them. (Act 3, pp. 104-105)
This quotation is taken from Act 3 in G. B. Shaw’s play,
Pygmalion (1914). It is a conversation between Eliza and
Mrs. Higgins’ guests, Mrs. Eynsford Hill and her daughter
lara and son Freddy in the presence of Higgins and
The context of this quotation is Mrs. Higgins’ weekly At-
Home meeting to which Higgins invites himself together
with Pickering with the aim of giving Eliza a primary test
before introducing her to an ambassador’s garden party.
Eliza has been trained by Higgins to ‘speak English
properly. She is given strict orders as to her behavior. She’s
to keep to two subjects: the weather and everybody’s healthــــ
Fine day and How do you do, and not to let herself go on things in general’.
In this quotation from Act 3 at Mrs. Higgins’s At-Home
meeting, Eliza starts well in the beginning according to
Higgins’s strict orders. However later, she commits
language errors as well as social errors of etiquette when
She speaks about the weather. Higgins keep observing and indirectly guiding Eliza’s speech and behavior.
Eliza makes serious language mistakes when she
discusses weather and talks her aunt’s death because
of influenza. She says that her aunt was ‘done in’ because
her father kept loading gin (a drink) down her throat after
her having diphtheria. Here, Eliza speaks cockney English;
she also uses the forbidden impolite word ‘bloody’ (a swear
word), which Mrs. Eynsford Hill regards as ‘really too
much’. Moreover, Eliza often uses ‘double negatives’, a
sign of her cockney English.
Eliza also commits errors of etiquette. when she
discusses her family life. She says that her father is a
drunkard, and that when he is out of work her mother ‘used
to give him fourpence and tell him to go out and not to
come back until he’d dunk himself cheerful and loving-like’. Eliza also says that her somebody pinched her aunt’s new straw hat that should have come to her. She says, ‘them as pinched it done her in’.
Higgins finds an explanation for Eliza’s language errors as ‘the new small talk’, and answers Mrs. Eynsford Hill’s
question saying that ‘To do a person inmean to kill them’.
Finally, Higgins finds out that Eliza has not the soul of a duchess and that she requires more training before introducing her to the embassy garden party. Higgins still
aims to win the bet of passing Eliza off as a duchess at such a
Hostess: Ah, here you are at last Nepommuck. Have you
found out all about the Doolittle lady?
Nepommuck: I have found all about her. She is a fraud.
Hostess: A fraud! Oh no.
Nepommuck: Yes, yes. She cannot deceive me. Her name cannot be Doolittle.
Nepommuck: Because Doolittle is an English name. And
she is not English.
Hostess: Oh, nonsense! She speaks English perfectly.
Nepommuck: Too perfectly. Can you show me any
English woman who speaks English as it should be
spoken? Only foreigners who have been taught to speak it
speak it well.
Hostess: ….. But if she is not English what is she?
Nepommuck: Hungarian … And of royal blood
(Embassy Garden Party p. 116)
This quotation is taken from the scene of the embassy
garden party taking place between Acts 3 and 4 in G. B,
Shaw’s play, Pygmalion (1914), It is a conversation
between the Hostess, supposedly the ambassador’s wife,
and Nepommuck, an exceptional phonetician at the
embassy garden party, where Eliza is introduced as a
The Hostess asks Nepommuck if he has found out all
about the Doolittle lady (Eliza). He answers that he found
that she is ‘a fraud’ because Doolittle is an English name but she is not English. When the Hostess argues that Eliza speaks
English perfectly, Nepommuck says that English women do
not speak English as it should be spoken. He claims that Eliza is a Hungarian of royal blood.
This situation is full of suspense and expectation for the
phonetician Nepommuck might discover the reality of Eliza.
He is used by the Hostess (the ambassador’s wife) to discover
the identity of her party guests. Moreover, Higgins says that
Nepommuck, one of his students, ‘can learn a language in a fortnightــــknows dozens of them.’ Earlier Nepomuck himself claims to have discovered the truth about a Greek diplomat at the party who pretends he cannot speak nor understand English.
Expectationsare raised that Nepommuck can discover
that Eliza is not a duchess, and that Higgins is about to lose
his bet with Pickering. When Higgins is asked about Eliza
by the Hostess, he places her in Drury Lane, a cockney
area in London where common people live. However,
Nepommuck rejects Higgins’ view and says to him, ‘you
are mad on the subject of cockney dialects. The London
gutter is the whole world for you. ’The Hostess agrees with
Nepommuck, saying that Eliza ‘must be a princess at least.”
Liza: … Ive won your bet for you, haven’t I? That’s
enough for you. I don’t matter, I presume.
Higgins: You won my bet! You! Presumptuous insect! I
won it. What did you throw those slippers at me for?
Liza: Because I wanted to smash your face. I’d like to kill
you, you selfish brute. why didn’t you leave me where you
picked me out ofـــin the gutter? You thank God it’s all
over, and that now you can throw me back again there, do you? (She crisps her finger frantically).
This conversation is taken from the beginning of Act 4 in
G. B. Shaw’s play Pygmalion just after Eliza’s successful
appearance as a princess at an embassy garden party.
Having arrived a Higgins’s apartment at Womple street
late at night after the party was over, Higgins, Pickering and Eliza prepare to sleep. However, Higgins takes all the credit
for Eliza’s success to himself, and even Pickering sees Eliza’s
triumph as a reflection of Higgins’s professional skill.
Higgins’ attitude angers Eliza, who sees that her own
efforts are undervalued; she says to Higgins” Ive won your
bet for you, haven’t 1? That’s enough for you”. Higgins does
not regard her as a human being with real feelings, “You!
Presumptuous insect! I won it.” Higgins regards Eliza as something inert (lifeless) which he transformed into a living
woman. He seems scarcely aware of Eliza’s presence. So
Eliza blames him for not leaving her where she was before
into the gutter (the street).
(1) Give a brief analysis of the major characters in Pygmalion.
He is a forceful and authoritative single man
(رجل أعزب مسلط وقوى)
(الشخصية في سن الأربعينات)in his forties. In his first appearance in the play
he reveals his single-minded devotion to his career as a phonetician
(متفرغ لمهنته كعالم صوتيات). During the course of the play he transforms a common flower girl, Eliza, into a duchess by teaching her how to speak correctly. However, he is surprised to learn that his creation
Eliza, has acquired human emotions and has fallen in love with him.
Shaw describes Colonel Pickering as “an elderly gentleman of the amiable military type.” Colonel Pickering is the author of “Spoken Sanskrit” and an expert on the subject (مؤلف كتاب في اللغة)
(السنسكريتية وخبير في الموضوع). His caution and good manners serve to
highlight Higgins’ more rough and impulsive characteristics.
(وحسن سلوكه يسلط الضوء علي خصائص هيجينز الجافة والمندفعة)
Pickering thus functions as a foil (contrast) to Higgins. In fact Eliza insists in the last act that it was Pickering’s courteous’ gentlemanly conduct and kindness of heart that really transformed her into a lady
(تري اليزا أن سلوك بيكارينج المهذب وطيبة قلبة كانت السبب الحقيقي في تحولها الي سيدة راقية)
Courteous = polite
She is a young, Cockney flower girl
(بائعة زهور من حي شرق لندن وهو حي بلدي)
of about twenty who is transformed in the course of the play (تحولت أثناء المسرحية) from a “draggletailed guttersnipe” (من فتاة متشردة في وحل الشارع)
into a duchess. The play shows her growth and development from helpless being (كائن عاجز مغلوب علي أمره) in Acts 1, 2 and 3 into an independent woman of strength and character (أمرآه مستقلة لها قوة وشخصية) in Acts 4 and 5.
Eliza’s father is an elderly but vigorous dustman. He first appears in Act 2 as an angry father who intends to blackmail
Higgins When Higgins bullies him (يستقوي علية) he instantly sells his daughter for a worthless sum of merely five pounds. By his second appearance in Act 5, he has become a gentleman because of a legacy of several thousand pounds a year left by an American millionaire.
(2) Give a brief analysis of the minor characters in G. B. Shaw’s Pygmalion.
Mrs. Higgins, Professor Higgins’s mother, is over sixty years old
She has exquisite elegance and refinement of manners. Her
intelligence, personal grace and dignity of character are idealized by her son, Professor Higgins, to such an extent that he is indifferent to young women (يرى أمه مثال للمرآة مما يصرفه عن النساء عموما)
She is thus a rival (منافس) to any young woman who wishes to acquire her son’s love and affection. She also disapproves of her son’s behavior and manners
(لا توافق علي سلوكيات قيمتها)
Mrs. Eynsford Hill:
She is a well-bred lady who lacks money but clings to gentility. She lives in the fashionable Earls Court
(في لندن حي راقي في سلوك الفلسفة الراقية)
even though she does not have the financial capacity to sustain the kind of lifestyle expected of a lady.
Clara Eynsford Hill:
Her daughter who wants to keep up with contemporary trends in society. By the play’s end she comes under the influence of Wellsian philosophy and goes to work in an old furniture shop in Docer Street.
Freddy Eynsford Hill:
Her son who is a good-looking man of about twenty. He comes across as weak and worthless, not having money or an occupation.
Ironically, it is Freddy (and not Higgins) who captivates
(يأسر بسحر) Eliza because he cares about her.
She is Higgins’s housekeeper and representative mother figure in his bachelor establishment at the Wimpole Street laboratory. She is an extremely lovable character who often chides (يوبخ) Higgins for his incurable swearing (شتيمة), disgusting table manners (سلوكيات سيئة علي مائده الطعام) and general slovenliness.
(3)Pygmalion is not a play about turning a flower girl into a duchess, but one about turning a woman into a human being, Do you agree?
After Eliza passes off as a duchess in the embassy garden party, she acquires an independent personality. She asks him about her future. Thus, she argues with Higgins and threatens him that she will take his phonetic findings to his rival in order to support herself, art imitates life.
Higgins shows a lot of sympathy for the flower girl who wants a higher station in life. Eliza, however, appears as the unloved, neglected woman who decides to make herself heard once and for all.
In Acts 4 and 5, the author (G. B. Shaw) portrays Eliza grown into a full human being with her own mind. Shaw does not show the climax (embassy party) on the stage as it takes in the interval between Act 3 and Act 4. The embassy party appears in the film version. The play does not stop here after Eliza’s success in the embassy party. The author carries on the play for a further two acts (Act 4 & 5) after the climax. In other words, the superficial climax is not the real climax at all, and Shaw’s aim is deeper than of a fairy godmother. He aims to develop the character of Eliza as a real human being.
(4)What is the Pygmalion myth? In what significant ways, and with effect, has Shaw transformed that myth in his play?
In mythology, Pygmalion is a sculptor who creates a statue of a beautiful woman so perfectly formed that he falls in love with her. The goddess Aphrodite is moved by his love and touches the statue to life so that she becomes Galatea, and Pygmalion can experience happiness with his own creation.
Shaw keeps up the imaginary story in which a gifted male creates a woman out of lifeless raw material into a worthy partner for himself. However, Shaw does not allow Higgins to fall in love with his creation (Eliza). Right to the last act, Higgins is still quarrelsome (مشاجر‘ متشاكس) and derisive (ساخر) in his interaction with Eliza, and does not even think of her as an object of romantic interest.
Shaw goes on to change the myth by adding other creative characters like Mrs. Pearce and Pickering, and to suggest that the primary Pygmalion himself (Higgins) is, incomplete, and not ideal himself.
In transforming the Pygmalion myth into his play in such a way, Shaw calls into question the ideal status afforded to the artist (يشكك في الوضع المثالي للفنان). Shaw further exposes the inadequacies of myths and romances that overlook the ordinary, human aspects of life.
(ويكشف عن عدم تناسب الاساطير وقصص الحب التي تتغاضي عن الجوانب العادية واللاإنسانية لحياة البشر)
(5) Give a character analysis of Henry Higgins.
Higgins is a professor of speech phonetics who, in some ways, acts to Eliza what Pygmalion does to Galatea. He is the author of Higgins’ Universal Alphabet, believes in concepts like visible speech, and uses all manner of recording to document his phonetic subjects, reducing people and their dialects into what he sees as readily understandable units.
He is an unconventional man, who goes in the opposite direction from the rest of society in most matters, Indeed, he is impatient with high society, forgetful in his public graces, and poorly considerate of normal social niceties. The only reason the world has not turned against him is because he is at heart a good and harmless man. His biggest fault is that he can be a bully.
(6) Does Eliza’s character develop in the play? If yes, show how?
Or: Discuss the development of the character of Eliza in the second half of the play,
Eliza is introduced in Act I as a young woman who “is not at all a romantic figure”. Everything about Eliza Doolittle seems against any conventional ideas we might have about the romantic heroine. When she is transformed from a funny, smart-mouthed flower girl with deplorable English, to an upper-class figure fit to consort with nobility, it has less to do with her innate qualities as a heroine than with the fairy-tale aspect of the transformation myth itself. In other words, the character of Eliza Doolittle comes across as being much more of appearance than of a reality. The real (re-)making of Eliza Doolittle happens after the ambassador’s party, when she decides to make a statement for her own dignity against Higgins’ insensitive treatment. This is when she becomes, not a duchess, but an independent woman; and this explains why Higgins begins to see Eliza not as an object of an experiment but as a creature worthy of his admiration.
(7) Why does Eliza rebel against Professor Higgins?
Eliza rebel against Professor Higgins because he takes all the credit to himself; and even Pickering sees Eliza’s triumph as a reflection of Higgins’s Professional skill. This angers Eliza, who sees that her own efforts are undervalued and that Higgins does not regard her as a human being with real feelings, but as something inert, a doll that it has amused him to pass off as a living woman. He seems scarcely aware of her presence.
Provoked, Eliza ceases to be the obedient pupil and rebelliously asserts her independence.
(8) Do you thing that Higgins is a winner or loser?
Professionally, Higgins is a winner. He regards himself as a winner as he won the bet of passing Eliza off as a duchess in six months. Pickering is of the same view as he congratulates Higgins for his professional skill.
However, at the personal and emotional level, Higgins is a loser. He is no more the same confirmed bachelor he was before meeting Eliza. He is now totally dependent on her, and perhaps attracted to her. Near the end of Act 5, Higgins asks Eliza to buy him some gloves, ties, ham, and cheese while she is out. She replies ambivalently and departs “…. What you are to do without me I , imagine.” We do not know if she will follow his orders.
When she leaves the house in Wimpole Street in Act 4, Eliza forces Higgins to realize how much he has come to rely on her. He traces her to his mother’s apartment where she has taken refuge, and tries to persuade her to come back.