by George Bernard Shaw
Pygmalion Women and Femininity 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.
HIGGINS. Very well, then, what on earth is all this fuss about? The girl doesn't belong to anybody—is no use to anybody but me. [He goes to Mrs. Pearce and begins coaxing]. You can adopt her, Mrs. Pearce: I'm sure a daughter would be a great amusement to you. Now don't make any more fuss. Take her downstairs; and— (2.119)
Higgins, in saying that Eliza doesn't "belong" to anyone, implies that a young woman should "belong" to someone; he also assumes that Mrs. Pearce, being a woman, would love to have a daughter to take care of.
HIGGINS [dogmatically, lifting himself on his hands to the level of the piano, and sitting on it with a bounce] Well, I haven't. I find that the moment I let a woman make friends with me, she becomes jealous, exacting, suspicious, and a damned nuisance. I find that the moment I let myself make friends with a woman, I become selfish and tyrannical. Women upset everything. When you let them into your life, you find that the woman is driving at one thing and you're driving at another […] Lord knows! I suppose the woman wants to live her own life; and the man wants to live his; and each tries to drag the other on to the wrong track. (2.161; 163)
Higgins is convinced that not only do women cause him trouble, but that they cause trouble in any and every case; he suggests that men and women are basically incompatible.
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! (2.293)
Here, again, we see how something as small as a well-equipped bathroom can separate "ladies" from women like Eliza; she also implies that washing is a particularly feminine pleasure.