by George Bernard Shaw
Pygmalion Appearance Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue.
Alfred Doolittle is an elderly but vigorous dustman, clad in the costume of his profession, including a hat with a back brim covering his neck and shoulders. He has well marked and rather interesting features, and seems equally free from fear and conscience. He has a remarkably expressive voice, the result of a habit of giving vent to his feelings without reserve. His present pose is that of wounded honor and stern resolution. (2.211)
Doolittle's clothing clashes with his other attributes: his facial features, his demeanor, and his voice. He is dressed like a dustman, but Shaw tells us that he is not the kind of person we might expect.
[[Doolittle] hurries to the door, anxious to get away with his booty. When he opens it he is confronted with a dainty and exquisitely clean young Japanese lady in a simple blue cotton kimono printed cunningly with small white jasmine blossoms. Mrs. Pearce is with her. He gets out of her way deferentially and apologizes]. Beg pardon, miss.
THE JAPANESE LADY. Garn! Don't you know your own daughter? (2.289-290)
Just as with the upstarts Higgins mentions (see 1.120), all it takes is a single word to disrupt an extremely powerful illusion.
There is a portrait of Mrs. Higgins as she was when she defied fashion in her youth in one of the beautiful Rossettian costumes which, when caricatured by people who did not understand, led to the absurdities of popular estheticism in the eighteen-seventies.
In the corner diagonally opposite the door Mrs. Higgins, now over sixty and long past taking the trouble to dress out of the fashion, sits writing at an elegantly simple writing-table with a bell button within reach of her hand. (3.3-4)
Mrs. Higgins's graceful beauty and her ability to define herself against fashion suggest that she is very comfortable with herself, that she knows, deep down, who she is.