Pygmalion : Top Ten Quotes
“He's no right to take away my character. My character is the same to me as any lady's” (Act I, p. 26)
Eliza begins her constant striving with Higgins to maintain her own dignity and respect, even as a flower girl in Covent Garden.
“A woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere—no right to live. Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech” (Act I, p. 27).
Higgins scolds Eliza for her animal-like Cockney dialect.
“Is she to have any wages? And what is to become of her when you've finished your teaching? You must look ahead a little” (Act II, p. 44).
Mrs. Pearce, the housekeeper, tries to make Higgins be reasonable towards Eliza's future, but he only thinks of her as an interesting experiment.
“I've taken a sort of fancy to you, Governor, and if you want the girl, I'm not so set on having her back home again but what I might be open to an arrangement” (Act II, p. 57).
Alfred Doolittle sells his daughter, Eliza, to Higgins for five pounds.
“They all thought she was dead; but my father he kept ladling gin down her throat til she came to so sudden that she bit the bowl off the spoon” (Act III, p. 76).
When Eliza is first introduced to polite company, she tells a dicey story about her aunt in the slums in perfectly pronounced English. It confuses the Eynsford-Hills that the English seems proper, but the content is vulgar.
“Come Higgins: you must learn to know yourself. I haven't heard such language as yours since we used to review the volunteers in Hyde Park twenty years ago” (Act III, p. 81).
Pickering, a military man, used to men swearing, is surprised by the sort of bad language Higgins indulges in in polite company. Pickering, Mrs. Pearce, and Mrs. Higgins all see Higgins as a poor teacher of manners to Eliza, so it is no wonder she swears in company.
“It was a silly notion: the whole thing has been a bore” (Act IV, p. 98).
Higgins thoughtlessly complains to Pickering after the embassy ball that the entire six months teaching Eliza has been boring. For her, it has been a life-changing experience in which she came to care for her teachers. Her feelings are hurt.
“I sold flowers. I didn't sell myself. Now you've made a lady of me I'm not fit to sell anything else” (Act IV, p. 103).
Eliza is worried after she has been made into a lady what will become of her. Higgins suggests she can get married or something. He does not understand her concern, because he is finished with his part.
“I tell you I have created this thing out of the squashed cabbage leaves of Covent Garden: and now she pretends to play the fine lady with me” (Act V, p. 121).
Higgins takes credit for creating Eliza's character as a lady and yet does not take her seriously.
“Yes: you can turn round and make up to me now that I am not afraid of you, and can do without you” (Act V, p. 132).
Eliza rejects Higgins and strikes out for her own life. This makes Higgins shift his attitude towards her. Suddenly, he appreciates she is a real person.