Henry Higgins character sketch Character Analysis

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Table of Content

Henry Higgins is a major character in the play Pygmalion, first introduced in Act 1. Despite his lack of filter and sometimes jerky behavior, he is likeable due to his education, talent with dialects and language, and lack of malice. He also demonstrates generosity by providing Elise Doolittle with speech lessons, a place to stay, and various luxuries associated with upper-class women.

Henry Higgins is an educated, kind-hearted, and generous person, despite his off-putting jerk-ish demeanor. According to George Bernard Shaw, Higgins can be genially bullying or stormily petulant, but he remains likable even in his least reasonable moments because he is frank and lacks malice. Additionally, Shaw characterizes Higgins through the words of others.

In the opening scene of the play, Higgins impresses people with his intelligence by accurately determining their origins based solely on their speech. This display of hubris is reminiscent of a boastful street performer, and everyone present admires his brilliance and education. Shaw employs indirect characterization to develop the character of Henry Higgins. Through his actions in the first act, Higgins conveys his intelligence and arrogance without the need for explicit statements from the playwright.

The audience can infer that Higgins belongs to the upper-middle class based on his possession of a maid, several extra rooms, access to hot and cold water, and other luxuries typically enjoyed by the wealthier inhabitants of 18th century London. In general, George Bernard Shaw masterfully portrays the character of Henry Higgins as an educated and endearing jerk over the course of the first and second acts of Pygmalion.

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