George Bernard Shaw (1856 -
George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion, (extract)
A pause. Eliza hopeless and crushed. Higgins a little uneasy.
HIGGINS [in his loftiest manner] Why have you begun going on like this? May I ask whether you
complain of your treatment here?
05 HIGGINS. Has anybody behaved badly to you? Colonel Pickering? Mrs. Pearce? Any of the
HIGGINS. I presume you don't pretend that I have treated you badly.
10 HIGGINS. I am glad to hear it. [He moderates his tone]. Perhaps you're tired after the strain of the
day. Will you have a glass of champagne? [He moves towards the door].
LIZA. No. [Recollecting her manners] Thank you.
natural for you to be anxious about the garden party. But that's all over now. [He pats her kindly on 15
the shoulder. She writhes]. There's nothing more to worry about.
LIZA. No. Nothing more for y o u to worry about. [She suddenly rises and gets away from him by
going to the piano bench, where she sits and hides her face]. Oh God! I wish I was dead.
HIGGINS [staring after her in sincere surprise] Why? in heaven's name, why? [Reasonably, going to
her] Listen to me, Eliza. All this irritation is purely subjective.
20 LIZA. I don't understand. I'm too ignorant.
HIGGINS. It's only imagination. Low spirits and nothing else. Nobody's hurting you. Nothing's wrong.
You go to bed like a good girl and sleep it off. Have a little cry and say your prayers: that will make
LIZA. I heard y o u r prayers. "Thank God it's all over!"
25 HIGGINS [impatiently] Well, don't you thank God it's all over? Now you are free and can do what
LIZA [pulling herself together in desperation] What am I fit for? What have you left me fit for? Where
am I to go? What am I to do? What's to become of me?
HIGGINS [enlightened, but not at all impressed] Oh, that's what's worrying you, is it? [He thrusts his
30 hands into his pockets, and walks about in his usual manner, rattling the contents of his pockets,
as if condescending to a trivial subject out of pure kindness]. I shouldn't bother about it if I were you. I
should imagine you wont have much difficulty in settling yourself somewhere or other, though I hadn't
quite realized that you were going away. [She looks quickly at him: he does not look at her, but
examines the dessert stand on the piano and decides that he will eat an apple]. You might marry, 35
you know. [He bites a large piece out of the apple, and munches it noisily]. You see, Eliza, all men are
not confirmed old bachelors like me and the Colonel. Most men are the marrying sort (poor devils!);
and you're not bad-
because you're crying and looking as ugly as the very devil; but when you're all right and quite
yourself, you're what I should call attractive. That is, to the people in the marrying line, you
40 understand. You go to bed and have a good nice rest; and then get up and look at yourself in the
glass; and you wont feel so cheap.
Eliza again looks at him, speechless, and does not stir.
The look is quite lost on him: he eats his apple with a dreamy expression of happiness, as it is quite
a good one.
45 HIGGINS [a genial afterthought occurring to him] I daresay my mother could find some chap or
other who would do very well.
LIZA. We were above that at the corner of Tottenham Court Road.
HIGGINS [waking up] What do you mean?
LIZA. I sold flowers. I didn't sell myself. Now you've made a lady of me I'm not fit to sell anything
50 else. I wish you'd left me where you found me.
HIGGINS. [slinging the core of the apple decisively into the grate] Tosh, Eliza. Don't you insult
human relations by dragging all this cant about buying and selling into it. You needn't marry the fellow
if you don't like him.
LIZA. What else am I to do?
55 HIGGINS. Oh, lots of things. What about your old idea of a florist's shop? Pickering could set you
up in one: he has lots of money. [Chuckling] He'll have to pay for all those togs you have been
wearing today; and that, with the hire of the jewellery, will make a big hole in two hundred pounds.
Why, six months ago you would have thought it the millennium to have a flower shop of your own.
Come! you'll be all right. I must clear off to bed: I'm devilish sleepy. By the way, I came down for
60 something: I forget what it was.
LIZA. Your slippers.
HIGGINS. Oh yes, of course. You shied them at me. [He picks them up, and is going out when she
rises and speak s to him].
LIZA. Before you go, sir—
65 HIGGINS [dropping the slippers in his surprise at her calling him Sir] Eh?
LIZA. Do my clothes belong to me or to Colonel Pickering?
HIGGINS [coming back into the room as if her question were the very climax of unreason] What the
devil use would they be to Pickering?
LIZA. He might want them for the next girl you pick up to experiment on.
70 HIGGINS [shocked and hurt] Is t h a t the way you feel towards us?
2 lofty (here): haughty, arrogant
19 to writhe: to wind, twist with pain
60 genial: cheerful, friendly
68 grate: fireplace
68 tosh (informal exclamation): rubbish
70 cant: hypocritical, insincere talk
75 togs (informal): clothes
Answer the following questions in complete sentences. Keep to the information given in the text unless explicitly asked to go beyond it.
1. Sum up W. Russell's Educating Rita in not more than 200 words.
2. Show how Higgins tries to calm Eliza down. What does this reveal about his attitude towards her? (150 words)
3. How does Higgins's and Eliza's manner of speaking characterize the roles they play in the first part of the text (ll. 1-
4. Describe the change in Eliza's behaviour in the second part of the text. Go beyond this excerpt and outline how the battle between the two continues
until she leaves the house. (200 words)
5. Shaw called this play a "romance". What do you think this means? Is this expression justified? Give reasons (100 words)
6. Do you think Educating Rita is a modern version of Shaw's Pygmalion? Give arguments for and against.
7. Shaw once said, "If everyone in England learned to speak 'good English', there would be much less friction in society."
Discuss this statement; you may go beyond Pygmalion and Educating Rita.