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Looking closely at Pygmalion, consider the relationship between Higgins and Eliza. Where do your sympathies lie?

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Introduction

Looking closely at Pygmalion, consider the relationship between Higgins and Eliza. Where do your sympathies lie? In the play Pygmalion, my sympathies change between the two characters Higgins and Eliza, as the play progresses. Eliza seems the more likely of the two to feel sorry for because she is without money and was brought up in filth. At some points during the action we do tend to sympathise for Higgins because of what he is going through and sometimes the stress of teaching a lower class girl gets the better of him. In Act1, at Covent Garden outside St Paul's Church my sympathies are for Eliza as she is grovelling in the rain for money. She clearly is poor and is dressed in dirty clothes as well as not having had a wash. When her flowers are knocked out of her hands by Freddy and trodden into the mud, she is deeply annoyed as it is her only means of living and without selling the flowers (which are now destroyed) she does not have much chance to have a bed to sleep on: "...eed now bettern to spawl a pore gel's flahrzen than ran awy like that athaht pyin." When the mother kindly offers to pay for the flowers, Eliza is pleased that she now has more money than they were worth: "Thank you kindly, lady."(page11). ...read more.

Middle

When Eliza offers Higgins money for the lessons, he starts to be a bit careless and calculates the offer, related to what a millionaire would pay him when he full well knows that she will not be able to pay. He is just trying to test her resistance: "Two-fifths of a millionaire's income for a day would be somewhere about �60."(p28). This starts off the bet which Higgins cannot resist and leads onto the garden party which Eliza begins to be very pleased but worried about. At times Higgins can be careless although Eliza thinks he is being very harsh. Sometimes when Eliza is being unreasonable Higgins will be strict towards her: "If she causes you any trouble, wallop her."(p30). I think that most of the time during the scene Higgins is being unfair to Eliza and not giving her much of a chance to speak out although he is testing her for her patience and strength of character. In Act 4, Higgins and Eliza argue when they return from the Embassy. Higgins was speaking across Eliza to Pickering, who for once in the play was ignoring Eliza which is bound to test her patience and will cause us to have some feelings for her. Eliza gets extremely irritated when Higgins is being so rude that she shouts back at him but Higgins takes in none of what she says and cannot see her point of view. ...read more.

Conclusion

Higgins admits that she has a finer ear than him. He laughed nervously when she said she would teach phonetics because he knows she is good at it: "Ha! ha! ha!"(p104). All the way through the scene Eliza is getting her own back on Higgins. He likes this as it shows she can stand up for herself although she is not going to go back to Wimpole Street and he is on the losing end of an argument. I don't feel sorry for Eliza as she can stand up for herself and Higgins is getting what he deserves. Eliza gets a clever answer to Higgins cheeky order at the end of the play which we admire. At the end of the play, Eliza gets my vote for sympathy as she is under Higgins wrath for most of the action. Only a few times do I feel sorry for Higgins when he is working hard to teach Eliza the tricks of the trade. At the end, I think Higgins regrets letting Eliza go as he becomes quite fond of her. Overall though Eliza has started from so low and reached great potential that she never realised she could because she never had a chance that she deserved so much from this. Eventually Eliza has what she wants; a decent life. ?? ?? ?? ?? David Rankin The Relationship between Higgins and Eliza.doc 1,358 words 15/03/2009 Page 1 of 3 GCSE English ...read more.

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