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Free Study Guide-Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw-Free Book Notes
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SCENE SUMMARY AND NOTES

ACT FOUR

Summary

The fourth act opens at midnight at the Wimpole Street laboratory. Higgins, Pickering and Eliza have returned after her successful society appearance as a Duchess. Higgins and Pickering are celebrating the fact that they have been successful in presenting Eliza as a Duchess at the ambassador's garden party. At this time it does not matter to them who has won the wager but that their experiment has succeeded.

Eliza is tired and sits down on the bench, brooding and silent. Higgins wonders where he has left his slippers. At this Eliza glares at him darkly and suddenly leaves the room. She soon returns with a pair of worn down slippers and, after placing them on the carpet before Higgins, sits down as before without a word. It is evident that the men have not noticed that Eliza is upset and angry. They are quite relieved that the tomfoolery is over. Suddenly Higgins notices his slippers and stares at them stupidly as if they have materialized of their own accord. He fervently declares "Thank God it's over!" at which Eliza flinches violently. Neither of the men notice her reaction and she recovers her composure and sits silently as before. The men continue to talk about the dreadfully dull evening. Higgins reveals that he had become dreadfully "sick" of the whole thing and would have given up the "silly notion" much earlier if he hadn't waged a bet. He declares that "the whole thing has been a bore." Pickering gently rebuffs him and insists that the garden party was quite exciting. Higgins however washes his hands of the entire project declaring "No more artificial duchesses. The whole thing has been simple purgatory." The men then leave to retire to bed. Higgins instructs Eliza over his shoulder to tell Mrs. Pearce that he shall have tea instead of coffee in the morning.


Eliza is seething with anger and almost on the verge of screaming. After switching off the lights she suddenly flings herself on the floor in a rage. Higgins, who has forgotten his slippers, appears at the door. Eliza furiously throws his slippers in his face and curses that he may never have any luck with them.

Eliza is obviously angry at Higgins' lack of feeling for her. She berates him for being only concerned about winning his bet without any regard for her. She is incensed by his attitude. She asks him why he picked her out of the gutter if he wanted to throw her back again. Eliza is worried about her future. She has suddenly realized that she has been made a lady and is fit for nothing else. Higgins loses his temper. He does not like the fact that Galatea has come to life. He thrusts his hands into his pockets and walks about rattling the contents of his pockets. He tells Eliza that she won't have much difficulty marrying someone. Eliza replies darkly that she was "above that at the corner of Totteham Court Road." At least there she sold flowers and not herself. Now that she has been made a lady she is not fit to sell anything but herself. Higgins rebukes her for commercializing the bond of matrimony. Besides, he tells her that she might revert to her old idea of a florist's shop. He is certain that Pickering could have set her up in one.

Convinced that Eliza is needlessly worrying he tells her that he is extremely tired and is going to bed. However Eliza stops him to ask whether her clothes belong to her or to the colonel. Higgins is surprised by the illogic of her question. Eliza retorts that they might need them for the next girl they want to experiment on. Higgins is shocked and hurt that Eliza thinks so lowly of them. But Eliza is in no mood to hear anything and only wants to know what belongs to her so that she isn't accused of stealing later on. Higgins angrily replies that she might take the entire household except the jewels since they were hired. As Higgins is about to leave, Eliza stops him and hands over the jewels for safekeeping. Higgins furiously thrusts them into his pockets. He is further infuriated when Eliza returns the ring he bought her in Brighton. He dashes the ring violently into the fireplace. Finally Higgins leaves slamming the door behind him savagely. Eliza kneels down to look for the ring and on finding it she considers what to do with it. Finally she flings it down on the dessert stand and furiously goes upstairs.

The reader next sees Eliza in her bedroom, putting on a walking dress, resolutely fastening her wristwatch, pulling on her gloves and reaching for her purse. After taking a last look at herself in the mirror, she leaves the room and switches off the electric light at the door. Meanwhile, Freddy Eynsford Hill is gazing at Eliza's window from the street outside. As the lights go off, he whispers "Goodnight darling." Eliza comes out and is surprised to see Freddy, who confesses his love for her. Eliza who needs to be comforted responds to his kisses. They are scuttled away by the arrival of an elderly constable. They run off to Cavendish Square and once again embrace each other. Again surprised by a younger constable, they run away again and Eliza expresses her wish to wander around forever. They take a taxi with the intention of driving about all night. Eliza resolves to call on Mrs. Higgins in the morning for advice. The act draws to a close with Freddy's instructions to the cab driver to drive off to Wimbledon Common.

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