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Pygmalion

Pygmalion

by George Bernard Shaw

Language and Communication Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

LIZA. I can't. I could have done it once; but now I can't go back to it. Last night, when I was wandering about, a girl spoke to me; and I tried to get back into the old way with her; but it was no use. You told me, you know, that when a child is brought to a foreign country, it picks up the language in a few weeks, and forgets its own. Well, I am a child in your country. I have forgotten my own language, and can speak nothing but yours. That's the real break-off with the corner of Tottenham Court Road. Leaving Wimpole Street finishes it. (5.152)

Throughout Pygmalion, "correct" language is portrayed as a unifying force. Here, Eliza demonstrates that it can also be divisive.

Quote #8

PICKERING. He's incorrigible, Eliza. You won't relapse, will you?
LIZA. No: Not now. Never again. I have learnt my lesson. I don't believe I could utter one of the old sounds if I tried. [Doolittle touches her on her left shoulder. She drops her work, losing her self-possession utterly at the spectacle of her father's splendor] A—a—a—a—a—ah—ow—ooh! (5.156-57)

Although she has been taught to speak properly, Eliza's "old ways" seem to linger on some deeper level, associated with emotion rather than intellect.

Quote #9

HIGGINS. And I have grown accustomed to your voice and appearance. I like them, rather.
LIZA. Well, you have both of them on your gramophone and in your book of photographs. When you feel lonely without me, you can turn the machine on. It's got no feelings to hurt.
HIGGINS. I can't turn your soul on. Leave me those feelings; and you can take away the voice and the face. They are not you. (5.209-11)

It seems strange that Higgins should say this, given that he associates the soul so closely with speech.

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