Eliza comes very close to being a walking cliché. She’s the poor girl from the streets, flower girl, who turns out to be a brilliant and beautiful young woman. She’s smart, independent, and feisty. She doesn’t seem to have a lot of hope for the future. She is a little bit crass but this is only because she is a product of her environment. a girl who howls every time she gets angry (“Ah-ah-ah-ow-ow-ow-oo!”).
She doesn’t want to be poor and dreams of a better life. When she meets Henry Higgins he treats her like she isn’t even human. She seizes the opportunity to elevate herself in life when she visits him and Colonel Pickering to ask for language lessons. She isn’t asking for the world; she just wants to be able to work in a flower shop. It should be said that a lot of the time Eliza functions as comic relief. Her howls, her indignation, her frequent exclamations of “Garn!” and “I’m a good girl, I am,” and most notably her performance at Mrs. Higgins’s party are all designed to make us laugh.
Eliza Doolittle is a very strong-willed and assertive woman, though maybe a little quirky. Henry Higgins puts her through hell and yet she endures and becomes a proper lady. I feel that Eliza is the most responsible for her transformation. She had will power and strength and was determined to make a better no matter what it took, even though Higgins and Pickering are getting a little carried away with their experiments. I tend to think that all she needed was the confidence that she could change her position in life. Henry was a means of confidence in that she felt he could transform her through language. In reality she made the transformation for herself through her determination, dedication, and hard work.
... and that she will always be a flower girl to Higgins. Higgins tries to convince Eliza that she is better off staying with him ... be afraid to show his affection toward her. For Henry Higgins his life returns the way it has always been with alone. He ... him. Colonel Pickering sees Elizas dramatic change as a positive thing for her life, as well as aid Higgins with his studies. Freddy ...
By the time we get to Act 4, we’re behind Eliza, she doesn’t speak with a thick accent; her grammar is correct; she moves with poise and confidence. Over the course of the play Eliza is transformed from a poor flower girl into a sophisticated young woman, but, perhaps more importantly, she stops being the butt of jokes and becomes a real three-dimensional character, someone for whom we can really feel.
Toward the end of the play we find out that she’s not 100% confident – she starts again with the darn howling – and that she’s not all sweetness and light. She shows Higgins that she’s proud and she’s shrewd, and tells him that she’d rather go into competition with him than be married off to some rich guy. Like Higgins says, she is his equal, but she doesn’t want to go his way or live his life.
Higgins is what you might call a bundle of contradictions. He’s a woman-hating mama’s boy; an incredibly talented, educated whiny little baby of a man; a personable misanthrope; a loveable jerk. Henry Higgins is an egotistical snob. He is an unhappy man who hides his feelings behind a wall of sarcasm, rudeness, and superiority. When he first sees Eliza he throws some coins to her, but calls her a dirty and low “guttersnipe”. He is very condescending in his attitude towards women. At one point in the story he says that they are “jealous and expect things.”Shaw says it best in his initial description of Higgins:
His manner varies from genial bullying when he is in good humor to stormy petulance when anything goes wrong; but he is so entirely frank and void of malice that he remains likeable even in his least reasonable moments. (2.05)
Henry is bossy and overbearing but tries to put up a front that he is a good person. The first time we meet Higgins he’s acting as a combination street magician/peacemaker. He calms down Eliza, then proceeds to show off his skills by telling people where they’re from just by listening to the sound of their voice. Oh, and he can mimic them too. Right from the beginning we can tell he’s a bit of a braggart and a bit of a preacher – he can’t help but tell Pickering all about his trade, his life philosophy and he is confident that he can make Eliza a lady because he is such a good teacher. He is harsh with Eliza and treats her like an object rather than a human being. He pushes her to the point of exhaustion. He calls her all sorts of unpleasant names. Finally, when she wins the bet, he celebrates with Colonel Pickering but doesn’t say a word to Eliza.
... marrying Eddie. HIGGINS: What! ! ELIZA: And you can't change my mind. Eliza exit the drawing room and leaves Henry standing there. Henry doesn't know ... I love with out a good reason. Eliza turns her to Higgins and lets go a deep sigh. Higgins then embraces her from ... here, mother; a terrible thing has happened. MRS. HIGGINS: Yes dear, Good-morning [He checks his impatience and kisses her, whilst ...
Though he can be a jerk, Higgins is definitely not a fool. He knows he’s a jerk, and he’s even come up with a justification for his behavior. After Eliza accuses him of treating her unfairly, he tells her,
The great secret, Eliza, is not having bad manners or good manners or any other particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls: in short, behaving as if you were in Heaven, where there are no third-class carriages, and one soul is as good as another. (5.197)
This is the best example of Higgins’s high-minded, philosophical side. Thing is, sometimes it’s hard to tell if he’s really being sincere or if he’s just trying to get out of a tough spot. He does, however, have a penchant for talking about the soul of man, about the importance of language, and social equality.
Towards the end of the story you begin to see signs of the person that Henry pretends that he isn’t. It takes Eliza threatening to marry Freddy, and then disappearing to cause Henry to panic and realize what it is he really has. Even though Henry realizes that he needs Eliza it is still hard for him to drop the hard exterior he has created. He tells Mrs. Pearce that he doesn’t care what becomes of her, and then says she “has bolted, what am I to do?” When Eliza’s father, Alfred, comes back dressed in dapper garb, Henry says that Eliza doesn’t belong to Alfred as he paid five pounds for her. When Henry asks Eliza to come back, she asks him, “What am I to come back for?” Instead of telling her how he feels he responds with, “Freddy is a fool.” He then proceeds to try to pull her into staying. In the end I think that Henry sees Eliza as an intellectual equal, but he would never admit that. He’s the play’s voice of reason, the preacher and poet, but he’s also a slovenly, absent-minded troublemaker. He is the engine that drives the play.
... as a duchess. As the flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, arrives at Higgins' residence the next day, Pickering offers to cover the costs of the ... is bewildered and leaves in a fury. Eliza resolves to seek advice from Mrs. Higgins but meets Freddy on her way. In the ... ending of this scene Freddy and Eliza kiss. The next morning Higgins arrives ...
Colonel Pickering is just as knowledgeable about language as Henry Higgins is. He is instrumental to the story in that, without the friendly wager between he and Henry there would be no story. Eliza would never have known that Henry could help her and would never have gone to him. Colonel Pickering also puts up the money to cover the cost of teaching Eliza to be a lady.
Colonel Pickering is a very likable character. He is always a gentleman. He tells Henry more than once that he is being too harsh. At one point he even tells Henry to call the whole thing off. He treats Eliza with kindness, benevolence, and compassion. He is almost fatherly. In the end Eliza thanks Colonel Pickering because he always treated her like a duchess, even when she was a flower girl. She says that the difference between a lady and a flower girl is how she is treated. Her self-confidence started when Colonel Pickering called her Ms. Doolittle. Colonel Pickering is also important to the plot in that he is the yin to Henry’s yang. He is kindness compared to Henry’s rudeness.
Mrs. Higgins, Henry Higgins’s mother, was once a young, intelligent independent woman with progressive ideas. When we meet her, she’s older, but she’s no less intelligent, independent, or progressive – well, maybe a little less progressive. In many ways, she’s a traditional mother figure: she doesn’t take any of her son’s nonsense, and she does ask him why he hasn’t married. At the same time, she knows a thing or two about being a woman in turn-of-the-century London, and she fears for Eliza’s fate. After watching Eliza’s performance at her little party, Mrs. Higgins tells it like it is to her son: Eliza’s certainly a fine example of your art, she says, but you’re just going to leave her in an awkward position. Eliza won’t be able to support herself with the kind of skills you’re giving her.
... hope she had of renewing her marriage.In conclusion, Eliza Henry is a woman who knows exactly what she wants ... Eliza Henry is a talented, strong-willed woman who will ... garden. From lack of affection, Eliza and her husband Henry, do not have children In Elizas garden she is the mother ... make herself beautiful, she seizes. Henry, of course, has no knowledge of Elizas unhappiness and refuses to try to ...
Mrs. Higgins’s primary function is to raise these big issues, and to warn Higgins of the eventual, unavoidable consequences of his actions. By giving her a sharp wit and a bit of a motherly streak, Shaw makes Mrs. Higgins more than simply a talking head. There’s a reason why Eliza runs off to Mrs. Higgins’s place when she’s had enough of Higgins: she’s just the kind of cool older lady you want to run to when you need some good advice.
Mrs. Higgins is essential to the story. Henry goes to his mother (who is not very happy to see him) to tell him about Eliza and that she will be coming to call. She is not very happy with the situation and tells Henry that it’s foolish. Mrs. Higgins does receive Eliza however, and tries quietly help her with her behavior when the other guests have arrived. At the end of the story Eliza goes to Mrs. Higgins when she has run away. Henry and Colonel Pickering also go to Mrs. Higgins frantic that Eliza has run away. Mrs. Higgins points out that Henry was unkind to Eliza and didn’t thank her for winning the bet. She says he is lucky she only threw his slippers at him. Mrs. Higgins seems to be the strength of all of the characters during the turmoil.
Alfred Doolittle is a smooth-talking garbage man, a serial monogamist (although he’s not always really married), a drunk, and a deadbeat dad. He’s got a lot to say about “middle class morality” and complicated theories about the deserving and undeserving poor. He has principles, too, but they’re not exactly conventional: he has no trouble milking five pounds from Higgins, but he doesn’t want anymore than that. He wants just enough money to have a few drinks and some fun.
In order to understand Doolittle, you have to understand how he speaks. This exchange is notable:
DOOLITTLE [“most musical, most melancholy”] I’ll tell you, Governor, if you’ll only let me get a word in. I’m willing to tell you. I’m wanting to tell you. I’m waiting to tell you.
... . The characters responsible for the change in Eliza throughout the play were Henry Higgins, Mrs. Pierce, and Colonel Pickering, all of ... like a lady. All these characters, Higgins, Mrs. Pierce, and Pickering helped transform Eliza into the lady she had the potential ... physically. The obvious character who influenced transformations in Eliza would be Henry Higgins. He is the one who instituted the bet ...
He is the sum of his mysterious speaking ability. You can describe what Doolittle’s saying with all sorts of fancy Greek words, but it’s enough to note how he repeats those three phrases that Higgins singles out, and how his speech is sort of singsong-y. Whether or not we believe what Doolittle’s talking about doesn’t matter, it sounds nice. These skills get Doolittle into trouble when Higgins nominates him for some such speaking position…and he gets it, along with a generous income. He can’t handle all the money; he doesn’t want to be “touched” – asked to spare some change – in the same way he touched Higgins.
Doolittle demonstrates how powerful and potentially dangerous words can be. Lucky for us, his intentions are (mostly) honorable. He’s the character most prone to lecturing – yes, even more so than Higgins – and though his theories may not be entirely logical, his little sermons do raise some issues regarding class relations. Think of him this way: he’s a stereotype of a drunken poor guy…with an oratorical twist.