by George Bernard Shaw
Pygmalion Society and Class 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. I tell you, it's easy to clean up here. Hot and cold water on tap, just as much as you like, there is. Woolly towels, there is; and a towel horse so hot, it burns your fingers. Soft brushes to scrub yourself, and a wooden bowl of soap smelling like primroses. Now I know why ladies is so clean. Washing's a treat for them. Wish they saw what it is for the like of me! (2.303)
It is interesting that we get to see a poor girl experience the comforts of wealth, but we never get to see a wealthier person "see what it's like" for Eliza.
LIZA. I had a good mind to break it. I didn't know which way to look. But I hung a towel over it, I did.
HIGGINS. Over what?
MRS. PEARCE. Over the looking-glass, sir.
HIGGINS. Doolittle: you have brought your daughter up too strictly.
DOOLITTLE. Me! I never brought her up at all, except to give her a lick of a strap now and again. Don't put it on me, Governor. She ain't accustomed to it, you see: that's all. But she'll soon pick up your free-and-easy ways.
LIZA. I'm a good girl, I am; and I won't pick up no free and easy ways. (2.308-313)
Doolittle equates wealth with laziness and wastefulness, and Eliza's own poverty seems to have instilled in her a sense of modesty. She will not so much as look in the mirror.
Mrs. and Miss Eynsford Hill are the mother and daughter who sheltered from the rain in Covent Garden. The mother is well bred, quiet, and has the habitual anxiety of straitened means. The daughter has acquired a gay air of being very much at home in society: the bravado of genteel poverty. (3.43)
Just as Doolittle occupies his own position within the lower class, Shaw tells us that the Eynsford Hills are part of what might be called the "genteel poor." They are, it would seem, much closer to Mrs. Higgins's level of wealth than to Eliza's, but they are nonetheless in a less than desirable position.