by George Bernard Shaw
Pygmalion Identity 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.
LIZA. No: I don't want no gold and no diamonds. I'm a good girl, I am. [She sits down again, with an attempt at dignity]. (2.145)
Eliza attempts again to define herself in contrast to stereotypes. She wants to make it clear that she's not simply looking for handouts; still, it's hard for her to look dignified in her dirty clothes.
HIGGINS. What! That thing! Sacred, I assure you. [Rising to explain] You see, she'll be a pupil; and teaching would be impossible unless pupils were sacred. I've taught scores of American millionairesses how to speak English: the best looking women in the world. I'm seasoned. They might as well be blocks of wood. I might as well be a block of wood. It's— (2.165)
Not only has Higgins come to view his clients as objects rather than human beings, he even seems to have lost something of his own identity in the process. There is another interesting interpretation, however: a block of wood, like a canvas, is a medium for artistic expression. He, of course, is paid to shape his clients, but this suggests that he, himself, could also be subject to the same process.
HIGGINS. You know, Pickering, that woman has the most extraordinary ideas about me. Here I am, a shy, diffident sort of man. I've never been able to feel really grown-up and tremendous, like other chaps. And yet she's firmly persuaded that I'm an arbitrary overbearing bossing kind of person. I can't account for it. (2.197)
Higgins admits that he sees himself as a sort of child, still in the process of growing, an impression which Shaw confirms in his initial description. At the same time, he is unwilling to acknowledge certain other highly visible aspects of his personality.