Pygmalion Is One of the Most Famous Plays by Bernard Shaw

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An anti-hero is a central character of a movie, show, or book that lacks heroic qualities making it a fine line between hero and villain just like Higgins. Higgins would be considered an anti-hero because he decided to help Eliza Doolittle who was underprivileged and uneducated, though it was for selfish reasons, he also treated Eliza as he would everyone else, making her neither less than nor more than others, and he started to fall in love with Eliza, even though he thought he would never love a woman. Henry Higgins could be associated more with Doolittle rather than any other character in the play because they both lack manners, they see Eliza as anything but human, and they both see how the lower class doesn’t need to meet any standards in society.

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In the play, Higgins is a rude phonetics professor who shows his true colors right at the beginning. Eliza, a poor and uneducated young lady, meets Higgins while she sells her flowers when she then learns he is a professor and decides to take classes from him. Higgins in this moment takes it upon himself to teach this “helpless” young lady to win a bet and prove to himself that he can turn anyone, despite how dirt poor, into a duchess. As a phonetics professor, he truly wishes he could help people learn how to speak properly, but to only satisfy his ego, again showing how he fits the anti-hero archetype. Once he passes her off as a duchess, he doesn’t even acknowledge her, making Eliza feel used and hurt. Higgins doesn’t really seem to care about what happens to Eliza after and since he was able to win his bet and his ego has been uplifted. Henry Higgins and Alfred Doolittle are very similar in the way that they both lack proper manners. For example, in Act two, Mrs. Pearce tells Higgins, “Yes sir. Then might I ask you not to come down to breakfast in your dressing-gown, or at any rate not to use it as a napkin to the extent you do, sir. And if you would be so good as not to eat everything off the same plate…” which shows how he has bad manners. Higgins also curses in front of Eliza and is terribly rude to her. Doolittle compares with Higgins in the way that he has poor manners as well, which was shown when he wanted to sell his daughter and tries to make it seem like Higgins and Pickering are in the wrong for taking his daughter. Although Higgins and Doolittle are in different social classes, they share similar traits.

Everyone has their own way of treating others and expressing themselves, although unfortunately, there are people like Henry Higgins who treats others as if they are nothing. Higgins was always rude and made no exception, not even for Eliza. He treated everyone equally even if the person was an upperclassmen. Higgins did a decent thing by treating everyone equally rude and not treating Eliza even worse simply because she was a flower girl, although, treating her and others poorly don’t reflect a good character making it a trade-off showing how his character is the anti-hero. Moreover, Doolittle and Higgins share various traits, one being how neither of them view nor treat Eliza as a human. Higgins sees Eliza as an experiment and an accomplishment. He treats her as if she has no feelings whatsoever and would tell Mrs. Pearce to hit her if eat. Doolittle on the other hand sees her as an opportunity for profit. Doolittle never really cared for her and kicked her out of home as soon as he had the chance, but as soon as she met a rich man, Doolittle suddenly cares about Eliza. They both used Eliza for personal gain and are oblivious to her emotions.

Love is a complicated thing especially for someone like Higgins. He believes women are like blocks of wood and idiots. The only woman he really loves is his mother because she would take care of him and no woman to him is useful unless she cares for him and fetches him his slippers. As cruel as he was to Eliza, he managed to fall for her, but only because she would fetch him his things when he couldn’t find them. He was able to find a woman suitable for him to take care of him at all times and towards the end of the play, the audience could tell that he liked her because he offered to adopt her and help her open up a flower shop showing that he didn’t want her to leave. Higgins could be seen as the Pygmalion archetype because he is the creator who is trying to make the “perfect” women but, he does decent things with the wrong intentions making him more of an anti-hero because he is not all good and all bad, he is in between. Additionally, Doolittle and Higgins both see how the lower class doesn’t have any standards. Higgins calls out on how Doolittle just begs other people for money and doesn’t really work for it and Doolittle agrees with him. Later on, Doolittle complains about how being in the middle class is hell for him because he does have to keep up with an image and actually work.

Given these points, we can see how Higgins fits the anti-hero archetype rather than the Pygmalion archetype through his rudeness towards other, his beneficial and self-serving gestures and finally how he was able to find love in a women he despised. Henry Higgins, Alfred Doolittle, and Eliza Doolittle all show character development. Even though Higgins is not even close to a hero, he has some warmth within his cold heart labeling him as the perfect anti-hero archetype.

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