Comedic Female Scene from Shaw's "Pygmalion"

Eliza Doolittle Shines!

George Bernard Shaw wrote many plays with amusing scenes, but this one from Pygmalion is one of his more hysterical -- if the performers are up to the task, that is.

In perhaps the funniest scene of the play, Liza has been trained how to speak the “Queen’s English.” Although she pronounces things perfectly, she still chooses “lower class” words. Here, she talks with two older women:

LIZA: (darkly) My aunt died of influenza: so they said.

MRS. EYNSFORD HILL: (clicks her tongue sympathetically)!!!

LIZA: (in the same tragic tone) But it's my belief they done the old woman in.

MRS. HIGGINS: (puzzled) Done her in?

LIZA: Y-e-e-e-es, Lord love you! Why should she die of influenza? She come through diphtheria right enough the year before. I saw her with my own eyes. Fairly blue with it, she was. They all thought she was dead; but my father he kept ladling gin down her throat til she came to so sudden that she bit the bowl off the spoon.

MRS. EYNSFORD HILL: (startled) Dear me!

LIZA: (piling up the indictment) What call would a woman with that strength in her have to die of influenza? What become of her new straw hat that should have come to me? Somebody pinched it; and what I say is, them as pinched it done her in.

MRS. EYNSFORD HILL: What does doing her in mean?

HIGGINS: (hastily) Oh, that's the new small talk. To do a person in means to kill them.

MRS. EYNSFORD HILL: (to Eliza, horrified) You surely don't believe that your aunt was killed?

LIZA: Do I not! Them she lived with would have killed her for a hat-pin, let alone a hat.

MRS. EYNSFORD HILL: But it can't have been right for your father to pour spirits down her throat like that. It might have killed her.

LIZA: Not her. Gin was mother's milk to her. Besides, he'd poured so much down his own throat that he knew the good of it.

MRS. EYNSFORD HILL: Do you mean that he drank?

LIZA: Drank! My word! Something chronic.

MRS. EYNSFORD HILL: How dreadful for you!

LIZA: Not a bit. It never did him no harm what I could see. But then he did not keep it up regular. (Cheerfully) On the burst, as you might say, from time to time. And always more agreeable when he had a drop in. When he was out of work, my mother used to give him fourpence and tell him to go out and not come back until he'd drunk himself cheerful and loving-like. There's lots of women has to make their husbands drunk to make them fit to live with. (Now quite at her ease) You see, it's like this. If a man has a bit of a conscience, it always takes him when he's sober; and then it makes him low-spirited. A drop of booze just takes that off and makes him happy. (To Freddy, who is in convulsions of suppressed laughter) Here! what are you sniggering at?

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Bradford, Wade. "Comedic Female Scene from Shaw's "Pygmalion"." ThoughtCo, Mar. 2, 2016, Bradford, Wade. (2016, March 2). Comedic Female Scene from Shaw's "Pygmalion". Retrieved from Bradford, Wade. "Comedic Female Scene from Shaw's "Pygmalion"." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 22, 2017).