Notes on Pygmalion Themes

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Pygmalion Topic Tracking: Feminine Power

Act 2

Feminine Power 1: Eliza refuses to sit down when commanded impolitely by Higgins to do so, but then is convinced to sit by Pickering.

Feminine Power 2: Higgins rushes Eliza into accepting his rash proposal that she spend the next six months in his house under his tutelage for the sake of whimsical bet, all the while insulting her and ignoring her objections. She attempts to leave at one point, but is silenced by a chocolate Higgins pops into her mouth and seduced by the luxuries he promises her. She speaks her mind but in the end does everything he says including taking a bath, which she dreads.

Feminine Power 3: Mrs. Pearce accuses Higgins of having poor manners. He denies it, but her insistence and detailed accounts force him to admit that he does not have flawless manners.

Act 3

Feminine Power 4: Mrs. Higgins criticizes her son's vulgar language, but he does not admit he is at fault until Pickering supports her argument.

Act 4

Feminine Power 5: Eliza becomes enraged by Higgins careless comments after her performance at the Embassy party. She feels her efforts have been disregarded and that she will now leave and be forgotten by Higgins and Pickering, whom she has become fond of. She expresses her anger by throwing Higgins' slippers at him and coldly giving back all the items he had bought her. She enjoys angering him, and later that evening leaves the house without warning.

Feminine Power 6: Freddy is madly in love with Eliza. She discovers him outside Higgins house, and he tells her he often spends his nights pining there. They embrace and he accompanies her around the city for the rest of the night.

Act 5

Feminine Power 7: Eliza wields her studied grace in an attack on her teacher, Higgins. She subtly insults him with the language and manners that he taught her. She also threatens to use the teaching techniques he used on her to make a living for herself.

Feminine Power 8: Eliza demands that Higgins care for her, which he refuses to commit to. He instead proposes a mutually independent cohabitation, in which both parties are free to leave at any moment, and which requires no even exchange of services or sentiment. Eliza is uneasy with the financial and emotional uncertainty of such a position.


Feminine Power 9: Shaw says that women marry men who can support them and will worship them. Because Eliza is a strong, resourceful woman she makes a compromise and marries Freddy, who cannot support her but will adore her. Shaw concludes that powerful women are not usually interested in marrying powerful men.

Feminine Power 10: Eliza remains Higgins friend and sparring equal into the indefinite future. She sometimes fantasizes about seducing him, but never really loved him in the romantic sense as Galatea loved her creator, Pygmalion.

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