Notes on Pygmalion Themes

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Pygmalion Topic Tracking: Manners


Manners 1: Shaw says that one very talented phonetician remained obscure because he refused to be polite to his peers in academia. He says that, unlike this phonetician, his character, Higgins, has enough charisma to be successful in society.

Act 1

Manners 2: The flower girl suggests that the gentlewoman's son, who knocked over her basket of flowers, has not had a proper upbringing in order to goad his mother into buying a bunch of flowers from her. She is successful.

Manners 3: The gentlewoman rudely pushes people aside and insults her own mother repeatedly.

Act 2

Manners 4: Higgins has the manners of a child. He is selfish and shocking but genuine.

Manners 5: Mrs. Pearce tells Higgins not to swear or wipe his hands on his dressing gown in front of Eliza. He will have to amend his own ways if he wishes to produce a convincing duchess.

Act 3

Manners 6: Higgins brusquely greets the guests who visit his mother, and then proceeds to ignore them and swear in front of them. His mother says he has no manners.

Act 4

Manners 7: Both Higgins and Eliza loose their composure. Eliza hurls slippers at Higgins and Higgins hurls the ring she gives back to him into the fire. This is uncharacteristic behavior for both of them, but more so for Eliza who has been the model student of manners for some time.

Act 5

Manners 8: Eliza criticizes Higgins lack of manners by thanking Pickering publicly for teaching her everything she knows about being polite. Higgins later tells her that his manners are equal to Pickering's because they both treat a duchess in the same manner as a flower girl.

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