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What do Eliza and Higgins learn from each other? How does this “education” change them as people?

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"You can't take away the knowledge you gave me... That's done you Enry Iggins, it az." What do Eliza and Higgins learn from each other? How does this "education" change them as people? "Pygmalion" explores Bernard Shaw's idea that people should not be limited by the social class into which they were born; that they should have a chance to improve themselves by gaining an education. This is called the "nature versus nurture" debate, which marked a major change in Victorian England. Should we remain in the position we were born into (nature), as was the basic Victorian belief, or can we change our status; establish equality between people regardless of age, gender and race (nurture)? Education is the foundation of these aims and is presented in the play as a way of self-improvement through teaching and training, whether it is academically or socially based. The characters around Eliza treat her with contempt. When Eliza convinces Mrs Eynsford Hill to buy flowers from her, her daughter, Clara says to her mother "Make her give you the change. These things are only a penny a bunch...Sixpence thrown away! ...read more.


This is partly because of his talent at placing accents, and also due to the respect she has for his standing in society. The difference in their reactions reflects Higgins and Eliza's characters. We can see that as Eliza's social skills are more acceptable, (even though her academic and social standing is below Higgins) she draws a more favourable conclusion. It shows that she has a better social awareness than Higgins, so she is able to educate him, which again, encourages equality. The first learning point for Eliza occurred at Higgins's house, where she learned elements of social ritual. Firstly, Mrs. Pearce shows her the bathroom, where Eliza has to get accustomed to the differences in standards of hygiene of the higher classes. She is not used to having a bath. "You expect me to wet myself all over?" she exclaims, when Mrs. Pearce shows her the bathroom. "It's not natural: it would kill me. I've never had a bath in my life" This demonstrates how dirty she is, and how unaccustomed Eliza is with soap and water; hygiene is a major aspect that Eliza learns while staying at Higgins's house. ...read more.


This is a radical change from the beginning of the play, when he was constantly insulting her. He even admits that he has "learnt something from (her) idiotic notions: I confess that humbly and gratefully", showing that he has become more open minded to other people's ideas. The characters have changed on the outside and from within. It is only by having a greater awareness of the world that Eliza could say "...When a child is brought to a foreign country, it picks up the language...and forgets its own. Well, I am a child in your country. I have forgotten my own language and can speak nothing but yours." This shows her knowledge of culture and behaviour, as well as using appropriate language and a total change on her part, which she benefits from. She has undergone a dramatic self-improvement. Higgins has not changed so radically, but has learned "the great secret. (It) is not having bad manners or good manners or having any other particular kind of manners, but having the same kind of manner for all human souls." He has finally learned to treat Eliza as an equal, which is a valuable lesson learnt from her. Both Higgins and Eliza have been nurtured, to become better people, by having a greater academic and social understanding. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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