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"By the end of the play, Eliza has benefited from her relationship with Higgins. Discuss."

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Introduction

"By the end of the play, Eliza has benefited from her relationship with Higgins. Discuss." The word 'benefit' is defined as; 'a favourable or helpful factor or circumstance'. Many benefits are not immediately recognised, as they can be the result of something bad. In the play 'Pygmalion', by Bernard Shaw, Liza gains many benefits, but also disadvantages from her relationship with Higgins. Looking at benefits, she receives some beautiful clothes; 'I'm to have fashionable clothes' (p. 63), a good place to stay and financial ease. She meets other friends such as Freddy; 'I'll marry Freddy, I will' (p. 131), and she has permanent companions. However, though she has learned good speech with Higgins, she has not learnt manners, and is treated almost like an animal. She is unhappy for a while, and is used by Higgins greatly. But was it worth it for Eliza to have spent any time with Higgins? Do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages? Throughout her time with Higgins, Eliza immediately became financially viable. ...read more.

Middle

In contrast, Eliza also encounters a number of disadvantages working with Higgins. Firstly, she was taught badly in the manners of upper class people, although she did actually learn correctly through Colonel Pickering, such as; 'things about standing up, and taking off your hat' (p. 122). She decided that Higgins' bad manners were 'his way' (p. 122), as he behaved the same to everyone. However, she was taught badly by him, as few upper class people would behave as he did. Secondly, a disadvantage of her relationship with Higgins was Eliza's treatment. Higgins treated her as nothing more than a servant when he was not teaching her phonetics, and using her to win his bet. He simply treated her 'just the same as a scullery maid' (p. 122), and was very unfair towards her, when, having won his bet, he acted as though she were a toy he had finished playing with, and was now going to throw away. In addition to Higgins, the other characters, such as Pickering, affected whether Eliza actually benefited from her stay with Higgins or not. ...read more.

Conclusion

This may prove the relationship with Higgins to be a worthwhile experience. However, in contrast, the life Eliza is now living may be happy, but the life she would have had may have been better. This would not have been the case financially, but good friends and a better husband than Freddy may have been the result of staying on the streets 'soylin' voylets'. We can see that Higgins impression on Eliza has changed; in Act One being 'you squashed cabbage leaf' (p. 27) through to Act Five 'I can't turn off your soul' (p. 127). He considers her more of a human being by this time, and this may have proved to her benefit in later life. Eliza, however, realises the strange equality between herself and Higgins, beginning in Act One 'I've a right to be here, same as you' (p. 27) through Act Five 'I have been brought up like him ... using bad language' (p. 121). This may suggest that Eliza proved almost as much of a benefit to Higgins as he did to her. In my opinion, this relationship benefited both characters, and without this occurrence, their lives would not have been so fulfilled. ...read more.

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