Pygmalio(A) Essay, Research Paper
Higgins’ Philosophy Professor Higgins is seen throughout Pygmalion as a very rude man.While one may expect a well educated man, such as Higgins, to be agentleman, he is far from it. Higgins believes that how you treatedsomeone is not important, as long as you treat everyone equally. The great secret, Eliza, is not having bad manners or good manners orany other particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for allhuman souls: in short, behaving as if you were in Heaven, where thereare no third-class carriages, and one soul is as good as another. -Higgins, Act V Pygmalion. Higgins presents this theory to Eliza, in hope of justifying histreatment of her. This theory would be fine IF Higgins himself lived byit. Henry Higgins, however, lives by a variety of variations of thisphilosophy. It is easily seen how Higgins follows this theory. He is consistentlyrude towards Eliza, Mrs. Pearce, and his mother. His manner is the sameto each of them, in accordance to his philosophy. However the Higginswe see at the parties and in good times with Pickering is wellmannered. This apparent discrepancy between Higgins’ actions and hisword, may not exist, depending on the interpretation of this theory. There are two possible translations of Higgins’ philosophy. It can beviewed as treating everyone the same all of the time or treatingeveryone equally at a particular time. It is obvious that Higgins does not treat everyone equally all of thetime, as witnessed by his actions when he is in “one of his states” (asMrs. Higgins’ parlor maid calls it). The Higgins that we see in Mrs. Higgins’ parlor is not the same Higgins we see at the parties. When in”the state” Henry Higgins wanders aimlessly around the parlor,irrationally moving from chair to chair, highly unlike the calmProfessor Higgins we see at the ball. Higgins does not believe that aperson should have the same manner towards everyone all of the time, butthat a person should treat everyone equally at a given time (or in a
certain situation). When he is in “one of those states” his manner isthe same towards everyone; he is equally rude and disrespectful to all.Yet when minding his manners, as he does at the parties, he can be agentleman. If the second meaning of Higgins’ theory, that he treats everyoneequally at a particular time, is taken as his philosophy, there is onemajor flaw. Higgins never respects Eliza, no matter who is around. InAct V of Pygmalion, Eliza confronts him about his manner towards her.”He (Pickering) treats a flower girl as duchess.” Higgins, replying toEliza, “And I treat a duchess as a flower girl.” In an attempt tojustify this Higgins replies “The question is not whether I treat yourudely, but whether you ever heard me treat anyone else better.” Elizadoes not answer this question but the reader knows that Higgins hastreated others better than Eliza. At the parties, for example, Higginsis a gentleman to the hosts and other guest, but still treats Eliza ashis “experiment.” Higgins could never see the “new” Eliza. Higgins only saw the dirtyflower girl that had become his “experiment.” Much like an author neversees a work as finished, Higgins could not view Eliza lady or duchess.Since Higgins knew where Eliza came from it was difficult for him tomake her parts fit together as a masterpiece that he respected. Part of Higgins’ problem in recognizing the “new” Eliza is hisimmaturity. He does not see her as what she is, he only sees her aswhat she was. This immaturity is representative of Higgins’ childishtendencies that the reader can see throughout the play. Higgins’child-like actions can partially explain the variations in hisphilosophy. Try to imagine Higgins as a young teenager. A youngHiggins, or any teenage boy for that matter, has a very limitedoutlook. They treat everyone the same; depending on the situation theymay be little gentlemen or rude dudes. When around parents the teenageris rude and inconsiderate yet when among his friends he a completegentleman. The adult Higgins’ actions are the same as the child.