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

EPILOGUE

Summary

Shaw does however, provide a resolution to the action in the epilogue. This epilogue does not form a part of the play. In this account Shaw scoffs at the craving for romance and its customary "happy endings." He repudiates the popular notion of the heroine marrying the hero of the romance. He considers Eliza's refusal to marry Higgins to be a well-considered decision and not flippant coquetry. Shaw holds that a woman's decision regarding the choice of her spouse depends on whether she is really free to choose and on her age and income. A good-looking girl like Eliza does not feel any pressure to marry and hence can feel free to pick and choose. Her instinct tells her not to marry Higgins but it does not tell her to give him up. Undoubtedly he shall remain one of the strongest influences in her life. She is also certain that he shall remain a bachelor and as such does not feel threatened regarding the displacement of his affection for her.

The clue to Higgins' bachelor status, says Shaw, lies in his idealization of his mother. Eliza was aware of the fact that she could never completely possess Higgins or come between him and his mother. She knows instinctually that Higgins did not have the making of a married man. Shaw argues that even if there was not a mother-rival, Eliza would still have refused to marry Higgins because his interests in phonetics would always be of more importance to him.


Shaw then provides an account of Eliza's marriage to Freddy and the ensuing economic complications since Freddy neither had money or an occupation. A clerkship was beneath his dignity. By marrying a flower girl from a lower class, Freddy had rudely shattered his mother's hopes that he might marry a lady with a fortune. However Eliza isn't wholly ineligible since her father has become extremely popular in high society. But her father, who found it hard to maintain his life style on 3000 pounds a year simply refused to increase his burdens by providing for Eliza. Finally help comes from the Colonel, who presents &pound;500 to the married couple. Despite Eliza's thrift the money is spent at last. While Eliza knows that she will always be welcome at Wimpole Street, she also knows that Freddy could not live there without maligning his character. Higgins refuses to consider Freddy's lodging at Wimpole Street as any problem at all and declares that Freddy has been intended by Nature for such light work such as amusing Eliza. Eliza's proposal to teach phonetics meets with Higgins' violent opposition. She also feels that she did not have any right to exploit the knowledge he has given her without his consent and hence drops the idea altogether.

Finally the Colonel solves the problem by suggesting that Eliza keep a flower shop. Freddy too readily agrees and says that he had not put forward the idea only because he feared that his mother would accuse him of ruining his sister's matrimonial prospects by indulging in retail trade. This difficulty is removed by an unexpected development by Clara herself who decides under the influence of Wellsian philosophy to work in an old furniture shop in Dover Street.

Shaw, the anti-romantic, further tells the reader that Eliza and Freddy's shop is not a runaway success since they lack both commercial knowledge as well as business experience. Many a time the Colonel bails them out of their financial constraints. They refuse to keep an accountant and unsuccessfully try to learn book keeping and typing from elementary schools. Finally Higgins teaches Eliza how to write and she acquires an extremely uncommercial script. At last they gave up their attempts to learn at commercial schools, and their business mysteriously begins to flourish. Their shop became a fashionable and classy place.

The epilogue ends by sketching a picture of harmonious relationship between Eliza, the Colonel and Higgins. Shaw states that although Eliza has realized that Higgins does not need her, she also senses that his indifference is deeper and more profound than the infatuation of common souls. She harbors a private fantasy of seeing Higgins making love like any common man on a deserted island. But this is mere fantasy. In real life she likes Freddy and the Colonel and does not like Higgins and Doolittle. Shaw concludes that Galatea never did quite like Pygmalion since his relationship with her was too godlike to be pleasant.

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