How do you respond to the presentation of Professor Henry Higgins in ‘Pygmalion’? Professor Henry Higgins is one of the main characters in Pygmalion, written by Bernard Shaw. Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins meet one rainy night in Covent Garden.
We soon find out that Eliza Doolittle is a common flower girl by the way she speaks, ‘Garn. Oh do buy a flower off me Captain. ‘(very cockney dialect) and the man who is taking notes of very thing she says is Professor Henry Higgins.He teaches Eliza Doolittle, a common flower girl, to speak like a duchess and she is passing a bet made between Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering, who is also a main character in the story. He can be a disliked character due to the way he treats women in the story (mostly Eliza) but can also be liked for his childlike behaviour and his humorousness. Many of the things we like about him revolve around his expertise for the English language and knowledge of phonetics. He is very passionate about his expertise and we respect this knowledge.
We can admire him, but we excuse some of his manners and bad language towards Eliza. When he says that’s she is a ‘squashed cabbage leaf’ even when we do not know exactly what his profession is, we do not react in a way we usually would, as we know that this man is of great knowledge. Henry Higgins looks as if he hides behind his profession; we do not know the real him. Somehow, this can make Higgins an even more interesting character as we want to find out what the real him is and if this real him is ever revealed in the book.Professor Henry Higgins does not usually think about Eliza’s feelings as he sometimes talks about her as if she is not there and also, when he is talking to her, he pushes her far past her comfort zone. An example of this is when Higgins is teaching her how to speak properly and she pleases him by saying the word ‘cup’ correctly he continues to say ‘tea’. Eliza starts weeping about the fact that she simply cannot say the word.
Higgins then proceeds to tell Colonel Pickering to give a chocolate to Eliza, after this he says ‘I promise I won’t let him drag you round the room by your hair. ‘ In the film Pygmalion, his bad manners are shown very well when Higgins is teaching Doolittle what to address different people, you can see and feel the pressure she is in to make sure she gets the right answer. One of the most disliked part of Professor Higgins is the way he speaks what is on his mind and does not think about how it might hurt other people.He especially hurts Eliza after getting back from the grand ball, when Higgins and Pickering congratulate each other on winning the bet, but say nothing to Eliza. Eliza works Higgins into a fury and then retires to his bedroom. Eliza felt so hurt by the lack of commendation that she felt the need to run away. After the ball, when Eliza runs away, Henry does not know all his appointments and then calls the police to find her like a ‘lost umbrella’.
We feel his distress very much and especially in the film ’My Fair Lady’ where he sings a song about Eliza. The main line of the song is: ‘I’ve grown accustomed to her look; Accustomed to her voice; Accustomed to her face’ This really summarizes how Professor Henry Higgins feels about Eliza at the end of the play, he wants her to stay and not marry Freddy. However, in the epilouge we find this does not happen. Overall, we do not like Professor Henry Higgins due to the way he behaves and talks to women and Eliza in general
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