Subject Act II
Posted by Monica
Posted on Tue Jan 12 17:25:20 1999
From IP  

In Act II, most characters are already introduced and we have a more concrete understanding about their personalities and point of view by reading the description and the dialogues.
We can know that Mr. Higgins was enthusiastic about his job from seeing his drawing room. The drawing room was filled with phonetic equipment, like phonograph, laryngoscope, and so on. But there was no painting in it. It was more like a laboratory than a drawing room. And Bernard Shaw also described him as being :interested in everything that can be studied as a scientific subject, and careless about himself and other people, including their feelings.; (p.26) For example, when Mrs. Pearce said that a young woman wanted to see him, the first question Mr. Higgins asked was :has she an interesting accent;. (p.27) Besides, Higgins treated Eliza in a very impolite way. He thought of her as an animal or a baggage because of her disgusting sounds. I suppose that Higgins was not interested in woman at all, like Pygmalion, because he thought women upset everything. He thought that when you let women into your life, you find that the woman is driving at one thing and you are driving at another. (p.40) And it is the reason why he remained single.
When Eliza said that she wanted to be a lady and would pay Mr. Higgins money for his lessons, Higgins became excited, not because of the money, but because of an interest in changing a guttersnipe into a duchess. He took it as a challenge. It is like a kid suddenly finds an interesting toy. But both Mrs. Pearce and Pickring gave Higgins some cautions. Mrs. Pearce told Higgins to look ahead a little and to be sensible. She also asked Higgins that what is to become of Eliza when he finished the teachigng. However, his answer was when he has done with her, he can throw her back into the gutter; and then it will be her own business. (p.35) Higgins was so unconsidered. When he wanted to do something, he just did it with impulse and he did not think about the result. It is like the kid left all the mess after playing and his mother has to put the toys away for him. On the contrary, Mrs. Pearce was a thoughtful woman. She really considered Eliza・s feelings. But finally, Mrs. Pearce didn・t persuade Higgins to change his mind. Pickring also said to Higgins that if Eliza is to put herself in his hands for six month for an experiment in teaching, she must understand thoroughly what she・s doing. But Higgins really looked down on Eliza and he said that she is incapable of understanding anything. Orders were enough for her. (p.36) I think Eliza indeed had her own feelings. However, Higgins didn・t want to pay attention to it, and he only cared about his profession. Comparing Pickring with Higgins, Pickring was more courteous to Eliza. Pickring talked to Eliza gently; while Higgins often yelled at her. I think Pickring was really a gentleman.
In Act II, there is a funny character, Doolittle. Doolittle came to Higgins・ house to ask his daughter back. He thought Higgins might give him some money in older to keep Eliza. But Higgins knew his real purpose and calmly said that :Oh, of course. You can take her away at once.; Then, Doolittle cannot help but admit that he wanted some money. But he still had an excuse for charging Higgins some money. He said that :All I ask is my right as a father; and you are the last man alive to expect me to let her go for nothing; for I can see you are one of the straight sort, Governor.; (p.48) It seems that Doolittle wanted to find a good reason for his behavior. But the funniest thing is he only asked for five-pound. His answer was that too much money makes a man feel prudent like; and then goodbye to happiness. (p.50) After he got money, he would not save it or spare it, but spend it immediately for one good spree. It is very different from ordinary people・s view on money. Unlike Eliza, Doolittle didn・t want to be more upper class, but he was content with his living style and was willing to be an undeserving poor. Besides, I think Doolittle didn・t have a good relationship with Eliza, because he didn・t contact her for a long time. And to my surprise, he asked Higgins to marry Eliza without knowing what kind of person Higgins was. It seems like that he couldn・t wait for throwing garbage away. He also thought her ignorant because he said that she・s only a woman and doesn・t know how to be happy anyhow. In conclusion, Doolittle was an interesting character and his changing in Act V also surprises me.

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