Summary
The epilogue begins to trample the romantic idea that Eliza goes back to Higgins. Shaw explains the reasoning behind this and defends Eliza’s decision to marry Freddy. He says that Higgins was made to be a bachelor. With a mother like Mrs. Higgins, Higgins could never settle with any wife because his expectations are were so high. A love of phonetics will combine with high expectations to leave any woman second or worse in Higgins’s heart. The matter of Higgins’s control over Eliza was also discussed. Women are thought to be fond of the “whip” but this exists for males too but is not a true representation at all. The idea that they want to control another is said to be just as likely but both of these situations are only true of people with extreme inferiority or superiority complexes. However the story is of Eliza’s quest to make something of herself without having to sell her body as she is expected to. This decision is said to happen even if the age gap was reduced. Eliza also tells Higgins no but not to forget her because she knows he will always be fond of her and he will always be a big part of her life. Shaw also claims to not like the story of Pygmalion because the sculptor becomes too entranced and would not be happy for Galatea. Eliza did marry Freddy despite his families disapproval. Doolittle refuses to pay for her because he has enough expenses on his own. Pickering helps them immensely however they still needed steady income. Higgins is strongly against Eliza using his teachings and if Freddy works in a flower shop then his sister, Clara’s chances of marrying well will be hurt. Clara resolves the issue by working in sales as well. Eliza and Freddy open a flower shop with minimal success partially because they refuse to keep an accountant. They both try how to keep books however they struggle greatly. Eventually Pickering teaches them and the flower shop becomes a success.

Analysis
The purpose of the epilogue is for Shaw to solidify the true purpose of the story. Shaw worried that the readers decide to put a romantic spin on the story and have Eliza marry Higgins. However this would go against the idea that self worth can be sustained while going up in life and that Eliza doesn’t have to sell out. Nell Gwynne’s story is discussed to show where Shaw got the idea that a woman can sell herself by acting rich and valuable. The reasons for Eliza’s rejection of Higgins must also be given so the reader does not find an excuse such as age that kept the two apart. The story of Pygmalion is brought up to explain Shaw’s choice for the title of the play and criticize the undesirable attraction. The future exploits of Freddy and Eliza are able to provide closing for the reader. Their story was clearly predicted in the play but by saying it the readers are not left hanging. It also serves to make the story more realistic. The couple did not have outrageous success as some might assume but instead had stability and a comfortable lifestyle which makes the story seem more plausible and achievable instead of merely something one can only dream of. This also shows how Eliza was willing to give up fortune for self respect.

by Eric