Summary and Analysis Sequel



When the play ends, the audience is left to ponder what will happen to the characters later; for the sentimentalist, it is a foregone conclusion that Higgins and Eliza will probably marry, even though there is ample indication in the play that they will not. Thus, in the prose "Sequel," Shaw reasserts his premise that such a wedding between Higgins and Eliza is absolutely impossible, and he explains again that he subtitled his play a "romance" because the technical meaning of "romance" refers to anything that was highly improbable; for example, the transformation of a flower girl into a duchess in six months is indeed highly improbable. A romance, however, also can suggest a "happy ending," and Shaw says he is not interested in such an ending to his story. He will not allow his creation, Eliza, to marry such a misfit as Higgins simply to satisfy the whims of the sentimentalists of the world, even though these sentimental people outnumber the realists. First of all, Eliza is beautiful, and she is now also intelligent, desirable, and witty enough to find a husband closer to her own age; after all, Higgins is over twenty years her senior. Eliza herself also knows that she is young enough to find someone much more desirable than Higgins. Second, Eliza recognizes that Mrs. Higgins is the model mother — that is, she is a woman of unusual charm and intelligence, and she possesses a tolerance for Higgins' idiosyncratic manners while sweetly disapproving of them. Eliza is now intelligent enough to know she would be a rival to this "irresistible wealthy" woman. Third, Eliza does not want to be a "second fiddle" to Higgins' study of phonetics and the English language; she knows that Higgins' experiments will always come first, and she would have to be content with being second place in his life. Last, Eliza, once having gained her independence, simply has no desire to be constantly combating Higgins' wit, his resentment, his bullying, and the condescendingly superior way which he takes with her. Higgins would always remind her of her origins and would attempt to evade her anger after he had bullied her. Thus, she reasons, why not marry Freddy Eynsford-Hill? He worships her, and he would always treat her as a lady. But Freddy is not equipped to earn a living, and Mrs. Eynsford-Hill could not offer them financial assistance. Eliza's father has risen so socially high in the world that he spends all he has to keep up his appearance and, therefore, cannot be of financial assistance to them. Consequently, Colonel Pickering again comes to the rescue and sets them up in a flower shop, a move which violates Mrs. Eynsford-Hill's concept that people in trade are inferior people. Unfortunately, neither Eliza, who only sold flowers for a pittance earlier, nor Freddy has the slightest concept of how to run a shop, and thus the Colonel has to constantly rescue them from economic disaster. Through it all, Higgins is delighted that Freddy is a failure; it justifies his opinion of the young man. But by attending night school, by hiring outside help, by luck, and by adding food items for sale, the shop began to prosper.

Eliza is still a part of Wimpole Street and she is still interested vaguely in Higgins, but she keeps him at a distance and holds his derisions of Freddy to a minimum. She is also very much beloved by Colonel Pickering, and she returns his love. In Shaw's words, Eliza "likes Freddy and she likes the Colonel; and she does not like Higgins and Mr. Doolittle. Galatea never does quite like Pygmalion: his relation to her is too godlike to be altogether agreeable."