Notes on Pygmalion Themes

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Pygmalion Topic Tracking: Morals

Act 1

Morals 1: The crowd expresses moral indignation to defend the flower girl against any possibly incriminating charges that would suggest she was a prostitute.

Morals 2: The phonetician says the flower girl's ugly use of the language of Shakespeare makes her unworthy of life itself.

Morals 3: Higgins scoffs at the flower girl's request for him to buy a bunch of flowers, but on hearing the ringing of a church bell, he changes his mind and gives her a generous handful of coins.

Act 2

Morals 4: When Mrs. Pearce shows Eliza her bedroom, Eliza says she is not good enough to stay in such a room.

Morals 5: Pickering questions Higgins' morality regarding women, and Higgins assures him that he has no immoral inclinations and that women are mainly an annoyance to him.

Morals 6: Higgins is loath to give money to Eliza's father, Alfred Doolittle, who comes to see if he can gain anything from his daughter's good luck. Doolittle asks for five pounds in exchange for the use of his daughter, an offer to which Higgins is morally opposed. Doolittle says middle class morality is just an excuse to never give money to the poor.

Morals 7: Doolittle also contradicts the generally accepted virtue of thrift. When Pickering suggests that he will not use the five pounds well, Doolittle says that he will spend it all in one night on food, drink, and entertainment. He explains that if he saves the money he will have to become prudent and then he will lose happiness.

Act 5

Morals 8: When Mrs. Higgins suggests that Mr. Doolittle can now support Eliza since he has a large income, Higgins threateningly reminds Doolittle that he cannot take Eliza as she has already been paid for.

Morals 9: When an inheritance suddenly raises Doolittle into the middle class, he feels weighed down by the moral code that accompanies his status. Responsibility accompanies money. He feels the need to give money to his old friends and he consents to marry his long-time girlfriend.

Morals 10: Higgins says that his manners are essentially good because he treats everyone the same. He says the only thing that matters is that you respect all humans equally, not that you abide by a set code of actions.

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