Mrs. Eynsford Hill and her daughter Clara are waiting forFreddy to get them a cab. But Freddy is too late andwhen he is back, he says that all cabs are taken. Themother and daughter blame him for not being able tofind them a cab and force him to go again to try to getthem one. He is obliged. As he is leaving hurriedly, heaccidentally he knocks over the basket of a FlowerGirl, Eliza Doolittle, who says to him, "Nah then, Freddy:look wh y gowin, deah.“ After Freddy leaves, themother gives the Flower Girl money to ask how sheknew her sons name. It turns out that "Freddy" is acommon name the Flower Girl would have used toaddress anyone. Eliza, in her loud cockneyaccent, demands payment for her flowers.
Colonel Pickering joins the group and givesEliza three halfpence. A bystander directsEliza’s attention to a man who is writing downwhat she is saying, and that perhaps he is apolice informer. Eliza protests loudly that sheis only a poor girl who has done no wrong.People attack the note-taker, who shows hisability to identify the origins of the speakersfrom their language, to the amazement ofall, including Colonel Pickering. As the rainstops, only the colonel, the note-taker, and theflower girl remain under the portico.
The Note Taker explains that his talent inrecognizing people’s origins comes from“phonetics...the science of speech." He adds thathe can use phonetics to make a duchess out ofthe Flower Girl. The Note Taker and theGentleman discover that they are Henry Higginsand Colonel Pickering, both scholars of dialectswho have been wanting to visit with each other.They decide to go for a supper. Higgins gives thegirl some change, which allows her to take a taxihome, the same taxi that Freddy has broughtback, only to find that his impatient mother andsister have left without him.
Professor Higgins discusses his researches withcolonel Pickering. The housekeeper, Mrs. Pearce,announces the arrival of a young woman, who turnsout to be Eliza. She wants Higgins to give herlessons so that she can work as in a shop. WhileHiggins makes fun of the poor girl and threatens her,Pickering is much kinder and considerate of herfeelings, calling her "Miss Doolittle" and offering hera seat. Eliza offers Higgins a shilling, a huge sum ofmoney, by her standards, which convinces Higgins ofher seriousness. Pickering challenges Higgins totransform the flower girl into a lady as he once said.Higgins accepts the challenge. He orders Mrs.Pearce to take her and clean her.
Alfred Doolittle has learned that his daughter hascome to the professors place. So, he comes,pretending to be saving his daughter. WhenHiggins agrees that he should take his daughteraway with him, Doolittle says that he is really thereto ask for five pounds. Higgins gives him themoney. Eliza enters, so completely different aftershe has been cleaned up that even her father doesnot know her.
Higgins keeps on teaching Eliza and preparing her forfacing the high society. The first test happens in hismother’s house, in the presence of Mrs. And MissEynsford and Freddy. When Eliza enters, sheimpresses everyone, especially Freddy, who falls inlove with her. According to Higgins’ instructions, Elizatalks only about the weather and people’s health.When Eynsford Hill brings up the subject of influenza,Eliza speaks about her aunt, who supposedly died ofinfluenza. At this point, she returns to her old accent,and reveals such shocking facts as her fathersalcoholism. As she leaves, she uses the swear word“bloody”. Freddy, however, thinks that she is affectingthis behaviour to make them laugh, and his infatuationwith her increases.
Back home, after a successful party, Pickering congratulatesHiggins on winning the bet. Higgins asks Eliza to leave a note forMrs. Pearce to make him coffee in the morning. After leaving,Higgins returns to the room, looking for his slippers, and Elizathrows them at him. She says that she does not mean for himthan just an object of the experiment and that he cares for hisslippers than he cares for her. slippersHiggins is taken aback, and does not understand Elizas reaction.She feels that she is ignored after her triumph. She doesnt knowwhat to do with herself now that hes won his bet. shes learnedhow to act like a lady and now shes worried she wont be able todo anything to make a living. Higgins says that she could getmarried. Finally she returns her jewellery to Higgins, includingthe ring he had given her, which he throws into the fireplace witha violence that scares Eliza.
Higgins and Pickering go the next day to Mrs. Higginshome in a state of distraction because Eliza has run away.Mrs. Higgins sends word upstairs to Eliza to remain in herroom until she sends for her. Higgins loudly tells Mrs Higginsabout Elizas disappearance and how this has resulted in inconfusion for him since he has relied on her to keep up hisappointments for him. Alfred Doolittle then arrives dressed as a gentleman.Doolittle claims that Higgins has ruined his happiness byjokingly recommending him to an American millionaire, wholeft him a considerable amount of money after he died.Doolittle says that he is miserable after being made agentleman. Doolittle has lost his free and easy ways and isnow obliged to conform to middle-class morality, along withits restrictive respectability. On the other hand, he can’trefuse the money because it is very tempting.
Mrs. Higgins reveals that Eliza is upstairs. Shehas been very upset because they did nit say agood word for her or tell her she did a good jobafter her excellent performance. When Elizacomes down, she looks self-possessed and verymuch at home. She uses the genteel accents thatHiggins has taught her. Higgins is furious andclaims that he has made her what she is. Pickeringassures Eliza that he does not think of her as justan experiment, and she expresses her gratitude tohim for everything, especially for teaching mannersto her. She adds pointedly says that Higgins couldnot have taught her such manners.
Eliza says that the difference between a ladyand a flower-girl is not in what she does but inhow she is treated. Pickering treated her like alady, whereas Higgins has treated her like dirt.She learned grammar and pronunciation fromProfessor Higgins, but it was from ColonelPickering that she learned self-respect. Elizasays that she could not utter the old sounds ifshe tried and, but when she finds her father infront of her in his new clothes, shespontaneously emits one of her old gutturalsounds — "A-a-a-a-ah-ow-ooh!" Higgins feelsvindicated.
Doolittle has come to announce his marriage and to askEliza to attend the wedding. Mrs. Higgins says that she willalso attend the wedding with Eliza. Higgins argues with Eliza; however, they feel to like eachother. They proceed to quarrel. Higgins claims that while hemay treat her badly, he is at least fair in that he has nevertreated anyone else differently. He tells her she should comeback with him just for the fun of it--he will adopt her as adaughter, or she can marry Pickering. She swings aroundand cries that she wont even marry Higgins if he asks. Shementions that Freddy has been writing her love letters, butHiggins immediately dismisses him as a fool. She says thatshe will marry Freddy. Higgins likes her defiance much morethan her submissiveness. Mrs. Higgins comes in to tell Eliza itis time to leave. As she is about to leave, Higgins tells her tofetch him some gloves, ties, ham, and cheese while she isout. We do not know if she will follow his orders.