• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What is the Importance of Alfred Doolittle to Shaw's 'Pygmalion?'

Extracts from this document...


What do you consider to be the importance of the role of Alfred Doolittle for the play as a whole? Alfred Doolittle is a working class dustman. He is Eliza's father and an important character to the theme of class distinction. To the original middle-class Edwardian audience, Doolittle would be a very representational working-class figure. His name alone, 'Doo-Little,' epitomises the stereotypical middle-class view of the working class man, who doesn't do as much as he could, therefore making him 'undeserving.' However, this view is challenged by Doolittle's pride in being one of these 'undeserving poor.' He says he 'means to go on being undeserving.' Doolittle takes this social stigma as a compliment, which would have shocked his audience, but also created humour. Doolittle's values in life would also have challenged the middle-class perception of the working classes. His attitude to marriage and s*x would have shocked the audience. Doolittle says of his mistress, 'catch her marrying me!' His mistress will not marry Doolittle, because that would give him dominion over her. ...read more.


Doolittle has very strong views about what he calls 'middle class morality.' When asked by Pickering if he has any morals, Doolittle replies, 'can't afford'em.' He goes on to say that middle class morality is 'just an excuse for not giving me anything.' Doolittle feels that the middle class use their morality as a method of keeping the undeserving poor as poor as they are. Later, when Doolittle has been 'shoved' into the middle class, he says that middle class morality is, 'having to live for others and not myself.' His money has not made him happy, rather the opposite, and the middle class 'morals forced upon him have cause him to have to give money to people who insist on working for him. This aspect of Doolittle's role is important to the play because it would have made the middle class audience question whether or not their money made them happy. Doolittle also acts as a foil for Higgins, they reinforce each other's characteristics. For example when the pair first meet, Higgins speaks to Doolittle with the assured authority of a middle class gentleman, 'what do you want, Doolittle?' ...read more.


This is important to the play because it provides a conflict to Eliza's opinion that the difference between the two classes is not 'how they speak, but how they are treated.' Finally, Doolittle is a source of humour in the play. His values and attitudes create a paradoxical humour, because they are the polar opposite to what the middle classes would expect a working class man to think. His juxtaposition of ideas 'I want a bit of amusement, 'cause I'm a thinking man,' also has this effect. His essential confidence and cheerfulness also creates a focus of humour. This humour is important to the play, because, essentially, Pygmalion is a romantic comedy. Alfred Doolittle's role represents the working class man; however it also challenges the stereotypes that the middle class assumed about the working class. He acts as a signpost for class distinction, as he is also a foil for Higgins' character. These functions are important to Pygmalion as a whole, because they allow Shaw to further explore the idea of class distinction, and continue to challenge the English middle class views. ?? ?? ?? ?? Joanna Bartlett 11vi Exam Practice Pygmalion Doolittle Essay Focus ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Other Authors section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

5 star(s)

This is an excellent analytical essay that focuses on the question, ranges around the play and considers the contextual factors that influenced Shaw's writing and the way the play would have been received by audiences of the time. To further strengthen the points more direct reference to the text should be included; links between the different Acts in which Doolittle appears could be explored to identify specific differences and similarities of the character before he has money and after he has received it.

Marked by teacher Laura Gater 10/04/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Other Authors essays

  1. Secrets. The Beautiful short story Secrets is based on the theme of relationships, which ...

    It suggests he was required to be there by others. His mind is obviously in other places (probably thinking about his past times with his aunt) , which suggests he is uncomfortable being there with his aunt 'at the end', when she is dying.

  2. Comparison of 'Desiree's baby' and 'The story of an hour'

    Since Desiree's origin is unknown her husband, Armand, blames the color of the child on Desiree rejecting her and the child for fear that this would damage his family name that had been built by his ansestors. What I noticed in a little way was a small deal of irony

  1. The Browning Version - Mr Crocker-Harris - one of the main themes in the ...

    It seems like no one really likes Andrew, he is called "The Crock" and "Himmler of the Lower Fifth" by his pupils, he is also considered not to have any heart or feelings. He is even forced out of the school by the headmaster to give way for a new

  2. Of Mice & Men [ Who do you feel most sympathy for and why?

    Lennie likes to pet soft things hardly, unaware of the fact that he could actually kill them. He even kills a mouse and a pup without even realising that he has actually killed them while petting them so hard.

  1. Elizabeth Doolittle and Henry Higgins have an odd relationship in the play. Both ...

    the end of the play such as: * When he first decided to take Eliza on as a student he was prepared to carry out all that he believed necessary without consulting, or even informing her even though it was her life which was going to be affected the most.

  2. In Harold Pinter's 'The Birthday Party' is it true to say that the character ...

    75 years later he won the Nobel Prize for literature. His work is thought by many to be post-modern. It is deemed this for his work is said to "underline the ability of the theatre to reflect the elusive nature of reality, and at the same time, points to the inadequacy of theatrical presentation.

  1. Discuss the relationship between Frank and Rita in Educating Rita how does it change ...

    Rita's character in the play is bright bubbly and loud, this covers up her insecurities on the inside, as she doesn't know how to act. We can see this from her first entrance into the play in scene1. Rita and Franks first meeting in the play involved a rather dramatic

  2. I am going to write about how Walter undergoes a transformation in the play ...

    Walter gave the money to w***y Harris, who he trusted but w***y Harris lost his trust by running away with the money. At that moment Walter feels like everything he hoped and dreamt of has been shattered in a moment.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work