Subject The Undeserving Poor
Posted by Dana
Posted on Mon Jan 11 23:17:57 1999
From IP  

"Who am I? I'm one of the undeserving poor: that's what I am. Think of what that means to a man. It means that he's up agen middle class morality all the time."

In the play "Pygmalion" Mr. Doolittle was a very interesting character. He represented a rather special kind of lower class. He, like his daughter Eliza, had the same origin. Both of them came from the lower class. However, unlike Eliza's eagerly trying to climb out of the "gutter", Mr. Doolittle enjoyed himself in this kind of undeserving poor life.

Mr. Doolittle had his own principle. He had his own special philosophy of life. And most important of all, he was honest to himself and to others. <"I ain't pretending to be deserving. I'm undeserving; and I mean to go on being undeserving. I like it, and that's the truth."> As a matter of fact, he was not moral. He didn't work hard; he's not trusted < Pickering: Why didn't you go for it yourself? Doolittle: Landlady wouldn't have trusted me with it, Governor¡K I had to give the boy a penny afore he trusted me with it, the little swine¡K> and got money from anywhere he could. Even his own daughter considered him as that kind of person: "You don't know him. All he come here for was to touch you for some money to get drunk on." However, he never tried to conceal what kind of person he was. He's always honest about his thinking and feeling, which was a great contrast to the people in upper class. Who would, as a gentleman with respectable social status, reveal his real thinking or opinions, or even acknowledge what kind of man he actually was? When Pickering asked Mr. Doolittle if he had any moral, he just directly and "unabashedly" answered: "Can't afford them, Governor. Neither could you if you was as poor as me." It's understandable that people in lower class sometimes can't afford morals, for struggling to survive in the basic living is their only goal. But without hesitation, Doolittle also admitted that he would use his daughter just to get five pounds to drink. <"Do you mean to say that you would sell you daughter for ¢G50?" "Not in a general way I wouldn't; but to oblige a gentleman like you I'd do a good deal, I do assure you.">

When Mr. Higgins was sort of persuaded by Doolittle and wanted to give him ¢G10 instead of ¢G5, Doolittle refused: "Ten pounds is a lot of money: it makes a man feel prudent like; and then goodbye to happiness. You give me what I ask you, Governor: not a penny more, and not a penny less." Doolittle had his own principle and his own opinions about money. Hi was immoral and yet honest. It's this particular philosophy that made Higgins interested and recommend him as "the most original moralist." And that's when Doolittle got changed.

After Doolittle received the money from an American and became a millionaire, his original life was totally changed. He became one of the middle class, which he had once criticized most. < "What is middle class morality? Just an excuse for never giving me anything."> However, he not only gave lecture about morality but also became the representative of morality. He had to "stay" moral. <"I have to live for others and not for myself: that's middle class morality."> This, with no doubt, was just like sentencing him to the life-long prison. <"Done to me! Ruined me. Destroyed my happiness. Tied me up and delivered me into the hands of middle class morality." "¡KNow I am worrited; tied neck and heels; and everybody touches me for money¡K"> Doolittle had become one of the unhappy millionaires. And he didn't have any chance to say no. "They've got you every way you turn: it's a choice between the Skilly of the workhouse and the Char Bydis of the middle class; and I haven't the nerve for the workhouse."

Doolittle got married because "it's the middle class way", and he changed to be someone with more dignity. He was influenced by the middle class by and by. When Higgins called Eliza as "the creature that we picked out of the mud", Doolittle asked him to "have some consideration for his feelings as a middle class man." This was what the "undeserving poor" Doolittle would never care about. He even wanted to learn to speak "middle class language" in order to suit his position! Higgins intentionally trained Eliza to be a lady, and accidentally transformed Doolittle into a middle class man. Both of the two recreation were successful; however, neither of them were happy.

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