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.
MRS. HIGGINS. Well, you never fall in love with anyone under forty-five. When will you discover that there are some rather nice-looking young women about?
HIGGINS. Oh, I can't be bothered with young women. My idea of a loveable woman is something as like you as possible. I shall never get into the way of seriously liking young women: some habits lie too deep to be changed. [Rising abruptly and walking about, jingling his money and his keys in his trouser pockets] Besides, they're all idiots. (3.22-23)
Higgins has said previously that women "upset everything"; now, even as he admits to preferring older women, he tells his mother that all women are idiots. Not exactly a nice thing to say to your own mother.
MRS. HIGGINS. No, you two infinitely stupid male creatures: the problem of what is to be done with her afterwards.
HIGGINS. I don't see anything in that. She can go her own way, with all the advantages I have given her.
MRS. HIGGINS. The advantages of that poor woman who was here just now! The manners and habits that disqualify a fine lady from earning her own living without giving her a fine lady's income! Is that what you mean? (3.4-6)
Higgins seems totally unaware of the place of women in society. Eliza herself will confront him and ask him what she is to do with herself after having been given such "advantages."
HIGGINS [a genial afterthought occurring to him] I daresay my mother could find some chap or other who would do very well—
LIZA. We were above that at the corner of Tottenham Court Road.
HIGGINS [waking up] What do you mean?
LIZA. I sold flowers. I didn't sell myself. Now you've made a lady of me I'm not fit to sell anything else. I wish you'd left me where you found me. (4.63-66)
Eliza tells Higgins two things: that she has no place in society anymore and that lower-class women have a stronger sense of morality than most "ladies." She and her fellow flower girls would never have sold themselves into marriage.