ACT III. Act III HOMEWORK QUESTIONS . 1. Take notes on Mrs. Higgins’ house. pp 53-54 - Flat on Chelsea Embankment -Open windows/balcony -Room not crowded with furniture—handsome furniture is not hidden by “odds and ends of useless things” -Few good oil-paintings
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1. Take notes on Mrs. Higgins’ house. pp 53-54
2. How does Higgins define a “lovable woman?” Why? Someone as similar to his mother as possible, because young women are “idiots” (p. 55)
3. What subjects does Higgins say that Liza should keep to in her conversation at Mrs. Higgin’s “at-home?” Weather and health p 55
4. How are Mrs and Miss Eynsford Hill introduced in this act?
Mother= well-bred, quiet, with habitual anxiety of straitened (restricted in range/scope) means p 56
5. How does Higgins behave? Give at least one specific example.
Rudely—he enters his mother’s house “violently” and doesn’t remove his hat; he tells Miss Eynsford Hill that she’d better sit; he doesn’t sit with the women; he curses (“damn it!”); “You’ll do as well as anybody else” (57); “God of Heaven! Another of them” (57); he looks at Freddy with contempt, as if he were a pickpocket; he is violent with Freddy (58)
6. Analyze the following quotation:
“Higgins: You see, we’re all savages, more or less. We’re supposed to be civilized and cultured—to know all about poetry and philosophy and art and science, and so on; but how many of us know even the meanings of these names?...” (58).
Higgins here claims that true “civilization” and sophistication is merely superficial. This attitude is supported by his experiment with Eliza, in which he assumes that she can pass her off as a lady simply by changing her appearance and speech.
7. In what way does Liza show her true class through language? Give examples of her revelatory dialogue.
8. How does Mrs. Higgins respond to her son’s “experiment?” Find at least 2 quotations as support.
9. Who is Nepommuck? How does he complicate the plot?
Higgins’ first pupil—is an interpreter at international parties; knows 32 languages—is someone who might find Liza out as a fake, and this ruin the bet. He eventually claims that he believes Liza is a fraud, in that she speaks English too perfectly. He assumes that she is truly a Hungarian princess (71), to which Higgins declares that she’s actually from Drury Lane (which nobody seems to believe).
10. How does Liza respond to the party?
She can’t bear much more—“she walks like a somnambulist, in a desert” (71), and she speaks like Queen Victoria, yet “nothing can make [her] the same as these people” (72).
How does Mrs. Higgins differ from her son, based on the settings of their homes?
Mrs. Higgins is more sophisticated, whereas her son is quite eccentric and doesn’t seem as concerned about manners and appearances as Higgins.
How does Eliza’s behavior/speech differ from that of Higgins? What does it reveal about her?
At first, Eliza is much more sophisticated/well-mannered than Higgins. Higgins is violent and disruptive, the opposite of the upper class norm. She seems to be doing well in her transformation from the “gutter” life.
How would you characterize the Eynsford-Hills now, as opposed to earlier in the play? Consider their language.
The Eynsfords are falling into “genteel poverty.” Mrs. E-H retains the elegance and sophistication of the upper class, but Clara is disheveled, and Freddy is intrigued by Eliza’s “new way” of speaking.
In what ways does Shaw criticize the upper class in this act?
The conversations in both parties are vapid/boring, and Liza’s true character is what adds some personality to the dialogue in the “at-home.” The upper class is superficial, and only likes people that fit their categories of behavior/appearance. When Liza is the flower girl, people berate/pity her, but when she appears at the Embassy, she is the center of attention due to her appearance and speech.
Consider the irony in Higgins’ interactions with Nepommuck at the end of the act. What does he think of her, and what does Higgins assert? How does Eliza feel about being a lady?
It is ironic that the language expert has incorrectly identified Liza as being royalty, when Higgins tells the truth and nobody believes him. The teacher has fooled the student, but when everyone believes Nepommuck’s “expertise,” Higgins’ accomplishment is only more prominent. Liza is bored with the lady status, since she is repressing her actual thoughts and actions.