The story of Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics who makes a bet with his friend Colonel Pickering that he can successfully pass off a Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, as a refined society lady by teaching her how to speak with an upper class accent and training her in etiquette. In the process, Higgins and Eliza grow close, but she ultimately rejects his domineering ways and declares she will marry Freddy Eynsford-Hill – a young, poor, gentleman. (From feedbooks.com)
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The highlighted lines are stage directions. Stage directions provide actors with specific instructions that can impact the tone, mood, or purpose of a scene. Pay attention to all the stage directions as you read the play.
What immediately sets the Flower Girl apart from the Mother and Daughter characters?
Watch the following video on colloquial language. How are the Flower Girl's colloquialisms different from the other characters? What does her language possibly tell you about her as a character? (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the details and dialogue, which of the following can you likely infer to be true about the Flower Girl?
What does the word "molestation" mean in the context of the highlighted passage?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
Observe the clues that are provided in the dialogue. Here we learn the Daughter's name is Clara.
What is the best explanation of the Note Taker's job and hobby?
Reread the highlighted lines. What is it that the Note Taker claims he can do by helping someone, such as the Flower Girl, with her method of speech?
Watch the first five minutes of the following video clip from the film My Fair Lady. This 1964 film is based on the Broadway musical adaptation of the play Pygmalion. (This annotation contains a video)
Refer to the previous annotation to view the My Fair Lady clip. Referencing only the material in first five minutes of the video, analyze the similarities and differences between Shaw's play and this movie adaptation of the opening scene of Act 1. What is absent or emphasized in each version? Provide at least two examples from each text to support your analysis.
Observe the characterization here. What does this paragraph tell you about Pickering?
Make an inference. Why does the Flower Girl want Mr. Higgens to know she came in a taxi?
What is it that the Flower Girl wants? Why has she come to see Mr. Higgens?
How is the Flower Girl characterized in the highlighted excerpt?
What is the purpose of the highlighted dialogue?
It seems as though the two men are about to make a bet. What are they wagering?
Why doesn't Mrs. Pearce want Higgens to "talk like that to her"?
What can you infer about Higgens' character based on the highlighted dialogue and stage directions?
Parallel structure occurs when the same pattern of words are used in succession. This is generally intended to show that ideas carry equal importance. Do you see the parallel structure in the highlighted lines?
Take a moment to consider Higgens' intentions with Liza. What do you think is his motivation for agreeing to tutor Liza? Provide at least two examples from the text to support your explanation.
What is the best summary as to why Higgens has remained a "confirmed old bachelor."
Observe Pickering's concerns for Liza. What does this tell you about his character?
This is a rather comical comment. Based on how Higgens has been characterized thus far, do you agree that he is "shy" and "diffident"?
Refer to the stage directions in the highlighted passage. What can you infer about Mr. Doolittle's character?
Which of the following literary devices is present in the highlighted line?
Why do you think Mr. Doolittle has come to Higgens' house? What has he wrongly assumed?
Observe the interactions between Doolittle, Pickering, and Higgens. Why does the author include this scene? What purpose does this interaction serve?
What is the tone and purpose of the highlighted passage?
Notice how Mr. Doolittle does not recognize his own daughter after she is cleaned up and in new, fancier clothing. Consider the concept of "appearance" as an emerging theme. What commentary about appearance have you observed in the play thus far? What do you think is the author's message?
View the following image from the film adaptation My Fair Lady to see Liza dressed like a proper lady. (This annotation contains an image)
Observe the new setting. Can you imagine what this type of setting would look like on a stage?
What best describes Mrs. Higgens' reaction to Henry's unexpected visit?
What is your reaction to Henry's rather harsh view of young women?
Make an inference. What is Henry's purpose in bringing Liza to his mother's house?
What is the purpose of the stage directions in the highlighted line?
Notice how, once again, the author includes some rather comical stage directions. Although Higgens doesn't intend to be rude, he abruptly turns his back away from the visitors. This is not what most would consider to be polite and social behavior.
Notice the incredible transformation in Liza's behavior and appearance. How much time do you think has passed since Act II?
What does the interaction between Liza, Mrs. Eynsford Hill, and Mrs. Higgens tell you about Liza's "transformation"? What clues suggest that Liza still may not yet have the "skills" needed to seamlessly interact with people of a higher social status? Provide at least two examples from the text to support your analysis.
What does Liza realize after Higgens states "Ahem!"?
The note of "Sensation" is in reaction to Liza's language in the preceding line. Exclaiming "Not bloody likely" would be considered improper or foul use of language.
Clues throughout Act III suggest that Freddy may be romantically interested in Liza. Do you think this play will involve some type of romantic affair?
What, according to Mrs. Higgens, makes Liza "not presentable"?
Watch the following video on connotations. What do you think of the connotation of the word "experiment"? What does this word choice reveal about Higgens' attitude towards Liza? (This annotation contains a video)
What literary device is present in the highlighted lines?
Notice Eliza's lack of dialogue here... In fact, she has yet to speak in Act IV. What is the purpose of this lack of dialogue? How does her lack of speaking, paired with the description of her actions in the stage directions, impact the mood of this scene? Provide at least two examples from the text to support your analysis.
Irony occurs when an action or event directly contradicts what one may expect. Notice in the highlighted passage how Higgens and Pickering speak about Eliza as if she were not in the room. Is it ironic that these two men, striving to teach Liza proper manners and etiquette, behave in such a rude way?
Consider the connotations in this highlighted line. Why has Eliza's beauty become "murderous"?
Watch the following video on elements of plot. It is likely that the moment in this act, starting with Liza's "breathless" response to Higgens, is a signal that we are reaching the climax of the play. (This annotation contains a video)
What does the highlighted stage direction suggest about Higgens' character?
Notice the connotations here, paying close attention to Higgens as he is "shocked and hurt." Does the diction suggest that Higgens may have feelings for Liza afterall?
Consider the events and actions in Act IV. Why does the author include the stage direction that Liza "smiles for the first time" at the close of this scene? How does this stage direction shift the mood of this act? Provide at least three examples from the text to support your analysis.
Notice the syntax here. The author chose to include exclamatory sentences (sentences that end in exclamation points). What does this punctuation tell you about the emotion in these lines?
A dustman is an old English term for a garbage man. Why does the maid correct Pickering by telling him that Mr. Doolittle is a "gentleman"?
What do you think is the author's intended effect of this line?
Why has acquiring wealth and a better social status made Mr. Doolittle so unhappy?
What is your reaction to this debate over who Eliza "belongs" to? What does this tell you about the general opinion of women during this time period?
Notice how differently Mrs. Higgens seems to view Eliza in Act V (compared to Act III). What has caused her treatment and opinion of Eliza to change?
Observe the diction and stage directions, paying close attention to the connotations of the words. What best describes Liza's attitude towards Higgins here?
Observe how Liza learned more than just etiquette and speech from Higgens. What is the deeper lesson she was able to gain?
This excerpt highlights important themes from the text. What message or lesson is the author trying to emphasize here? Cite at least two examples from the text to support your explanation.
What causes Liza to "relapse" into her old methods of speech here?
Why does the author include this interaction here? What does he want the reader to infer about Eliza and Higgins?
Watch the following video on flat and round characters. Observe whether characters are round or flat as we near the conclusion of the play. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the purpose of the highlighted dialogue?
Consider how Shaw treats this topic of love in contrast to more conventionally "romantic" authors. Specifically, read William Shakespeare's famous Sonnet 18, copied below, and consider the differing attitudes towards love: “Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate: / Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, / And summer's lease hath all too short a date: Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines, / And too often is his gold complexion dimm'd: / And every fair from fair sometimes declines, By chance or natures changing course untrimm'd; / By thy eternal summer shall not fade, / Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest; / Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou growest: / So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, / So long lives this and this gives life to thee.”
Refer to the previous annotation to read Shakespeare's famous Sonnet 18. How does the poem and the play treat the topic of love and beauty? What message is each author intending to convey? Provide at least two examples from each text to support your analysis.
According to Higgens, why doesn't he want Eliza to marry Freddy?
Observe how Eliza defends herself. How would you characterize her transformation throughout the play?
Refer to the previous annotation to read the summary of the myth "Pygmalion and Galatea." Based on the myth, which character is likely the representation of Pygmalion in this play?
The title of Shaw's play is an allusion to a famous Greek myth, "Pygmalion and Galatea." Read the summary of the myth by clicking on the article below. (This annotation contains a link)