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    مُساهمة  Mr. Mag في الخميس نوفمبر 04, 2010 8:41 am


    One of the most entertaining and best-loved modern British plays, Pygmalion is intriguing for its social commentary and endearing for its love story. In this play, Henry Higgins, an upper-middle-class gentleman of leisure, transforms Eliza Doolittle, a member of the working poor, by training her in language and manners.

    The title comes from the Greek myth of Pygmalion, a sculptor who created a statue of surpassing beauty; at his request, the gods animated the statue as Galatea. The myth is updated, and substantially altered, by Shaw; instead of a statue, Galatea is Eliza Dolittle, a Covent Garden flower-girl, whose accent immediately marks her out as from the very bottom of the English class structure. Pygmalion is represented by Henry Higgins, who is an expert on accents and pronunciation, and who undertakes to transform her speech so that she can be taken for a duchess at a society party.

    The play concentrates on the comedy of the early lessons, and the early attempts to pass Eliza off into society. Shaw makes some effort to avoid sentimentality - the fact that despite the title Henry and Eliza don't end up falling in love is an example - and his lead could with profit have been followed by those who adapted Pygmalion as the musical My Fair Lady. However, Shaw suffers from a sort of non-romantic sentimentality, as can be seen from the Epilogue, which tells the later stories of the characters. This is about success through personal endeavour - Eliza ends up setting up a flower shop with her upper class but poor husband, studying accounting and making a good living. In the cynical 1990s, this seems almost as unbelievable as the romance.

    Of all of Shaw's plays, Pygmalion is without the doubt the most beloved and popularly received, if not the most significant in literary terms. Several film versions have been made of the play, and it has even been adapted into a musical. In fact, writing the screenplay for the film version of 1938 helped Shaw to become the first and only man ever to win the much coveted Double: the Nobel Prize for literature and an Academy Award. Shaw wrote the part of Eliza in Pygmalion for the famous actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell, with whom Shaw was having a prominent affair at the time that had set all of London abuzz. The aborted romance between Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle reflects Shaw's own love life, which was always peppered with enamored and beautiful women, with whom he flirted outrageously but with whom he almost never had any further relations. For example, he had a long marriage to Charlotte Payne-Townsend in which it is well known that he never touched her once. The fact that Shaw was quietly a member of the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, an organization whose core members were young men agitating for homosexual liberation, might or might not inform the way that Higgins would rather focus his passions on literature or science than on women. That Higgins was a representation of Pygmalion, the character from the famous story of Ovid's ****morphoses who is the very embodiment of male love for the female form, makes Higgins sexual disinterest all the more compelling. Shaw is too consummate a performer and too smooth in his self- presentation for us to neatly dissect his sexual background; these lean biographical facts, however, do support the belief that Shaw would have an interest in exploding the typical structures of standard fairy tales.

    Pygmalion is a perceptive comedy of wit and wisdom about the unique relationship between a spunky cockney flower-girl and her irascible speech professor. The flower girl Eliza Doolittle teaches the egotistical phonetics professor Henry Higgins that to be a lady means more than just learning to speak like one. Based on classical myth, Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion plays on the complex business of human relationships in a social world. Phonetics Professor Henry Higgins tutors the very Cockney Eliza Doolittle, not only in the refinement of speech, but also in the refinement of her manner. When the end result produces a very ladylike Miss Doolittle, the lessons learned become much more far reaching. The successful musical My Fair Lady was based on this Bernard Shaw classic.

    George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" , depicts the relationships between gender and social status. It reveals the story of a young, lower class, flower girl, who wants nothing more than to become a lady. The character of Professor Higgins is introduced as a higher class, sexist individual. He agrees to teach the young girl, Eliza, to become a sophisticated, proper speaking lady. To Eliza, this sounds like an irresistible chance of becoming a lady. However, in Higgins eyes, he's simply teaching her enough to pass her off as a Royal Duchess, through the perfection of her English.

    This book undergoes the common theme of "the developing butterfly", with the character starting out in the gutter and integrating her way into becoming a beautiful, proper, mature speaking lady. Although Eliza progresses somewhat throughout the play, she continues to remain within the walls of the lower class status. Similarly, Henry Higgins remains consistent with his arrogant, disliked attitude.

    Pygmalion centers on a woman who cannot speak to save her life. She is the most interesting of the three main characters but also the worst to focus on. She is boring to the point of tears. She is poor, hungry, and happy. It is a typical underdog story where two rich and powerful men who happen to be specialists in her area of need -language-happen upon her in a gloomy British rain. Surprised? I was not. Shaw cut right to the point; after all, it is a short play. I do not blame Shaw for making it short, more of Higgins and I would have put the play down.

    Should we try to pinpoint why the two men, more so Higgins, decide to tutor and to change Eliza, we come across purely selfish motives. Eliza sells flowers on the street in order to feed herself, and later goes to Higgins to learn proper English in order to become a shop-owner. Higgins wants to change her into a proper girl in order to prove that he is the greatest linguistics tutor, also, to win a egocentric. Selfish acts drive this play along.

    Here, the class struggle also comes into play as Eliza must not only refrain from using the only language she knows, but must change the way in which she holds herself in front of society. Shaw wrote Eliza's character very precisely to have individual dignity and determination to help her achieve her goals. The one thing I liked.

    The play is about adaptation and transformation. Eliza's incredible strength moves the play along more quickly despite Higgins' pompous attitude slowing it down. Then again, without the diametrically opposed characters the play would not work.

    Interesting class struggle and realistic language effort but overall, just a so-so read. Shaw has a good point: it takes effort to move up to bourgeoisie. He has all the right characters: a poor, pretty girl with a desire to learn, a snotty old Professor who is full of himself and a rich gentleman to provide the budget.

    Pygmalion derives its name from the famous story in Ovid's ****morphoses, in which Pygmalion, disgusted by the loose and shameful lives of the women of his era, decides to live alone and unmarried. With wondrous art, he creates a beautiful statue more perfect than any living woman. The more he looks upon her, the more deeply he falls in love with her, until he wishes that she were more than a statue. This statue is Galatea. Lovesick, Pygmalion goes to the temple of the goddess Venus and prays that she give him a lover like his statue; Venus is touched by his love and brings Galatea to life. When Pygmalion returns from Venus' temple and kisses his statue, he is delighted to find that she is warm and soft to the touch--"The maiden felt the kisses, blushed and, lifting her timid eyes up to the light, saw the sky and her lover at the same time" (Frank Justus Miller, trans.).

    Myths such as this are fine enough when studied through the lens of centuries and the buffer of translations and editions, but what happens when one tries to translate such an allegory into Victorian England? That is just what George Bernard Shaw does in his version of the Pygmalion myth. In doing so, he exposes the inadequacy of myth and of romance in several ways. For one, he deliberately twists the myth so that the play does not conclude as euphorically or conveniently, hanging instead in unconventional ambiguity. Next, he mires the story in the sordid and mundane whenever he gets a chance. Wherever he can, the characters are seen to be belabored by the trivial details of life like napkins and neckties, and of how one is going to find a taxi on a rainy night. These noisome details keep the story grounded and decidedly less romantic. Finally, and most significantly, Shaw challenges the possibly insidious assumptions that come with the Pygmalion myth, forcing us to ask the following: Is the male artist the absolute and perfect being who has the power to create woman in the image of his desires? Is the woman necessarily the inferior subject who sees her lover as her sky? Can there only ever be sexual/romantic relations between a man and a woman? Does beauty reflect virtue? Does the artist love his creation, or merely the art that brought that creation into being?

    Famous for writing "talky" plays in which barely anything other than witty repartee takes center stage (plays that the most prominent critics of his day called non-plays), Shaw finds in Pygmalion a way to turn the talk into action, by hinging the fairy tale outcome of the flower girl on precisely how she talks. In this way, he draws our attention to his own art, and to his ability to create, through the medium of speech, not only Pygmalion's Galatea, but Pygmalion himself. More powerful than Pygmalion, on top of building up his creations, Shaw can take them down as well by showing their faults and foibles. In this way, it is the playwright alone, and not some divine will, who breathes life into his characters. While Ovid's Pygmalion may be said to have idolized his Galatea, Shaw's relentless and humorous honesty humanizes these archetypes, and in the process brings drama and art itself to a more contemporarily relevant and human level.

    In the original final act Eliza leaves Higgins and we see him alone on the stage, we don't get to see any wedding but Eliza declares she would marry Freddy. The way Freddy acts and the way he treats her makes her think of him as an appropriate husband. She can compare between Higgins with his rude attitude and carelessness and between Freddy who is a real gentleman, tender and cheerful. He loves and respects her for who she is and pays no attention to her social class or her level of education.

    The final act brings together many of the themes that we have examined in the other acts, such as what constitutes the determinants of social standing, the fault of taking people too literally, or for granted, the emptiness of higher English society, etc. With regard to the first of these themes, Eliza makes the impressively astute observation that "the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she's treated." The line packs double meaning by stating clearly that what is needed is not just one's affectation of nobility, while her delivery is proof of the statement itself as she has grown enough to make such an intelligent claim. Quite contrary to the dresses, the vowels, the consonants, the jewelry (significantly, only hired) that she learned to put on, probably the greatest thing she has gained from this experience is the self-respect that Pickering endowed her with from the first time he called her "Miss Doolittle." In contrast to the "self-respect" that Eliza has learned is the "respectability" that Doolittle and his woman have gained, a respectability that has "broke all the spirit out of her." While respectability can be learned, and is what Higgins has taught Eliza, self-respect is something far more authentic, and helps rather than hinders the growth of an independent spirit. Alfred Doolittle makes the unmitigated claim that acquiring the wealth to enter this society has "ruined me. Destroyed my happiness. Tied me up and delivered me into the hands of middle class morality." Higgins' haughty proclamation--"You will jolly soon see whether she has an idea that I haven't put into her head or a word that I haven't put into her mouth."--mistakes the external for the internal, and betrays too much unfounded pride, which is the ultimate cause of his misunderstanding with Eliza.

    The greatest problem that people have with Pygmalion is its highly ambivalent conclusion, in which the audience is left frustrated if it wants to see the typical consummation of the hero and heroine one expects in a romance--which is what the play advertises itself to be after all. Most people like to believe that Eliza's talk about Freddy and leaving for good is only womanly pride speaking, but that she will ultimately return to Higgins. The first screenplay of the movie, written without Shaw's approval, has Eliza buy Higgins a necktie. In the London premier of the play, Higgins tosses Eliza a bouquet before she departs. A contemporary tour of the play in America had Eliza return to ask, "What size?" Other films of the play either show Higgins pleading with Eliza to stay with him, or Higgins following her to church. Doubtless, everyone wanted to romanticize the play to a degree greater than that which the playwright presented it. All this makes us question why Shaw is so insistent and abrupt in his conclusion.

    However, in an epilogue that Shaw wrote after too many directors tried to adapt the conclusion into something more romantic, he writes, "The rest of the story need not be shown in action, and indeed, would hardly need telling if our imaginations were not so enfeebled by their lazy dependence on the ready-mades and reach-me-downs of the rag shop in which Romance keeps its stock of 'happy endings to misfit all stories." He goes on to deliver a detailed and considered argument for why Higgins would never marry Eliza, and vice versa. For one, Higgins has too much admiration for his mother to find any other woman even halfway comparable, and even "had Mrs. Higgins died, there would still have been Milton and the Universal Alphabet." To Shaw's mind, if Eliza marries anyone at all, it must be Freddy--"And that is just what Eliza did." The epilogue goes on to give a dreary account of their married life and faltering career as the owners of a flower and vegetable shop (an ironic treatment of the typical "happily ever after" nonsense) in which Freddy and Eliza must take accounting and penmanship classes to really become useful members of society. One can see this whole play as an intentional deconstruction of the genre of Romance, and of the myth of Pygmalion as well.

    Towards the end of the play Eliza instinctually knows that Higgins did not of the making of a married man (mainly due to his idealization of his mother), although Shaw stands by his opinion that Eliza would not marry him even if there were no mother-rivals, that she would still refuse the marriage.

    The play ends with an uncertainty to the plot, whether or not Eliza will marry Higgins, however this is cleared by the epilogue in which he states reasons against such a commitment. Instead Eliza marries Freddy Eynsford Hill. Some may predict she was driven away from Higgins, with his abrupt sense of being, using sentences involving Eliza while in conversation with Colonel pickering, "Thank god its all over" says Higgins without realizing the hurt he is causing her with the miserable silences.

    At the end of the Shaw quotes "people in all directions have assumed for no other reason than that she became the heroine of romance, that she must have married the hero of it". One can only form the conclusion that the ending to the play is suitable if only from learning of Shaw's own opinions and attitudes to feminist ideologies. This is because if it were to end in the obvious way (whereby Eliza would marry Higgins) Shaw would be failing his own play as someone with knowledge of women's attitudes would know that a person like Eliza would never marry Higgins.

    If Shaw were to take into consideration the audience expectation he would have ended with Eliza marrying Higgins. The play is essentially a comedy so therefore one could argue that as an experienced play write he should have ended it in a way that conforms to the comedy genre, so therefore the audience can be forgiven for expecting what is an obvious ending.

    The ending of Pygmalion is serious and in some ways realistic, not at all in keeping with the light hearted and cheerful generic conventions of a comedy. Therefore the audience cannot help but feel somewhat let down that their need for the fairy tale ending (the typical consummation of the hero and heroine) goes unfulfilled. This was distinctive of Shaw (who was a lover of paradox) to have provided such an anti-romantic conclusion to the play. His own need to write a realistic and informed ending was more important.

    It is not entirely true to someone with feminine instinct that Eliza would marry Higgins. She is in a situation whereby there is opportunity to choose a suitable spouse rather than being pressured into marrying somebody who clearly would not fulfill her and meet emotional needs as a husband should. A person with a feminine instinct would realize this is a far more acceptable conclusion to the play.

    If she had married Higgins she would have lived a completely different life. It's not just that she would be financially secure, but she would have a better chance in glazing and approving her conducts and manners, as he would take care of her education and help her to overcome any difficulties. This is what we see in the film version. After she leaves the stage she comes back to him, hoping that they could work it out.

    In 1938, a film version of the stage play was released,[1] starring Leslie Howard as Higgins, Wendy Hiller as Eliza, Wilfrid Lawson as her father Alfred Doolittle, Scott Sunderland as Colonel George Pickering, and David Tree as Freddy Eynsford-Hill. It was adapted to film by Shaw, W.P. Lipscomb, Cecil Lewis, Ian Dalrymple, and Anatole de Grunwald from the Shaw play, and directed by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard. The movie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.The play was the basis for the musical play and film My Fair Lady.[2]

    My Fair Lady is based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, one of the favorite plays of all time. In this famous play, Shaw examines the influence of training and education on success and social class. He uses Eliza to show that training and education can help someone rise from humble beginnings to live a happier, more successful, and more confident life.

    My Fair Lady was Warner Brothers' most popular musical romantic comedy. It was also their most expensive film up to that time, totaling in at $17 million. Part of the reason for the expense was that Warner Brothers had to pay $5.5 million to purchase the film rights to the already popular Broadway hit. My Fair Lady ended up being one of the top five biggest hits of 1964. With clever lyrics and memorable tunes combined with amazing sets, fantastic costumes, and great leads and supporting cast, the lavish film was a sure winner from the beginning.

    The play, the stage musical, and the film musical have different endings. At the end of the play, Eliza leaves Higgins to marry the aristocrat Freddy Eynsford-Hill. Shaw, annoyed by the tendency of audiences, actors, and even directors to seek 'romantic' re-interpretations of his ending, later wrote an essay for inclusion with subsequent editions in which he explained precisely why it was impossible for the story to end with Higgins and Eliza getting together. In the stage musical, this is left unresolved, and the final scene is of a lonely Higgins. Both the 1938 film and the filmed version of the musical add a final scene with both of them apparently about to reconcile.

    In My Fair Lady, although the final confrontation between Higgins and Eliza has been altered and subjected to major cuts, most of the balance of Shaw’s brilliant dialogue involving them has survived miraculously intact. Additionally, drawing largely on references in the Shaw play, Moss Hart and Alan Jay Lerner with the support of Fritz Loews’s magnificent music, have given their musical a smooth flow and expansiveness which are to be treasured.

    Before the first scene of My Fair Lady, viewers sit through an overture where all the credits are shown on a background of beautiful flowers. Beautiful music allows viewers to begin to get the feeling of the film and its characters before the movie even begins. These beautiful, bright-colored spring flowers become the flowers that line the entrance to the Covent Opera House.

    My Fair Lady begins as members of the upper echelons of society leave the opera house. As they come out of the building, it begins to rain and the upper class and lower class people mingle. As young Freddy Eynsford-Hill tries to get a cab for his mother, he bumps into Eliza, and causes her to drop her flowers. Eliza begins screaming about how he has ruined her wares and cost her a day's wages. Colonel Pickering comes on the scene and gives Eliza some coins without receiving any flowers in return.

    Eliza Doolittle is a low-class, uncultured flower girl. To Professor Henry Higgins and other persons of his stature, her speech is painful and her actions uncouth. Viewers cringe and laugh as they listen to Eliza's outrageous and unimaginable Cockney accent that distinguishes her so hideously from the upper classes.

    Eliza's emotional well-being is also not at all stable in the beginning of the movie. She has a fear of being observed that reveals her self-consciousness. Additionally, when she feels uncomfortable, she makes hasty outbursts at whoever happens to be around. However, we see her grow and change throughout the course of the movie, until she is a lady both in actions and in her mental and emotional states.

    Throughout the movie, we see social classes taking two forms, either high class or low class. In the time period in which the movie is set, middle class is not an option. Higgins' experiment is primarily focused on the possibility that social class has less to do with money or connections and more to do with proper education, training, and manners.

    By using low-class Eliza as his pupil, Higgins (and Pickering) can prove once and for all that anyone can become a lady if only she has the proper information and training. By being trained as a lady and having lived on the streets, Eliza is able to transcend the requirements and standards of both classes, but that sadly leaves her in a "no-man's land" from which she has little ability to escape. Love also comes in many places and at unexpected times.

    My Fair Lady was a throwback to happier times in the world of movie musicals. Companies were trying to cash in on the former popularity of musicals with such shows as My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, and Mary Poppins. Needless to say, the strategy worked. These blockbuster musicals along with others brought in the crowds that had been missing in recent years for some of the studios. Musicals offer the advantage of being able to play out life with added musical commentary and asides. The music enhances the emotion behind the words and actions of the characters. Additionally, the characters can express themselves through their unique songs and dances.

    Although this musical is based on the stage play Pygmalion, much of the movie's power relies on the musical numbers. Expressions and emotions are portrayed through music, lyrics, and dancing. Competition is seen in several ways throughout this movie. Almost every character is attempting to win some type of competition, either with themselves or with another person or force.

    Higgins is trying to win the competition and wager put to him by Colonel Pickering. He seeks to make Eliza into a lady in just a few short weeks. In order to prove that he is truly the best in his field, he must meet this ultimate challenge. However, he is also competing against himself to see if he really is as smart and determined as he believes himself to be. If he fails in this task, he has failed in his profession and in his life. Eliza is also competing against herself. She spends her time trying to prove that a lowly flower girl from the streets can indeed become a lady and a successful, thriving member of the community.

    The phonograph represents a number of things throughout the movie. In the beginning, the phonograph is the tool by which Higgins examines a number of linguistic patterns. After Eliza moves in, Higgins uses the phonograph to train her in her speech and language habits. After Eliza has learned to speak correctly, the phonograph symbolizes her freedom and independence as well as her achievement in changing her long-standing habits. Finally, in the last scene, the phonograph represents Higgins' desire to have Eliza in his life, as he listens to it after he arrives home from arguing with her.

    Of necessity, the musical foreshortens the roles of several of the supporting characters, eliminating much of their dimension and humor in the process. However, in this production of the play, in grand ensemble style, we are presented with a gallery of richly amusing and often moving individuals from differing social classes. Each is amazingly well drawn by Shaw, and the performances evoke the richness in the writing.

    Will Henry Higgins and his fair Eliza get married? Or will they be fellow bachelors? Or will Eliza hitch up with nice, but lightweight Freddy? Or will Eliza go off .... Well, Bernard Shaw did provide some pretty strong answers in an epilogue-essay, published about three years after Pygmalion was first produced. However, he may be wrong. Just maybe, his essay was just a misguided reaction to public perceptions about the play which rubbed him the wrong way. However, before checking out his epilogue, you had best get over to the Shakespeare Theatre in Madison and, with the help of Bonnie J. Monte and her exceptional cast, decide for yourself. For very good measure, you will almost surely have a delightful time.

    According to the Epilogue Show states that there is to be no romantic ‘happy ending’ of a conventional kind. Eliza will not be marrying Higgins because her instinct is all against that. Higgins is too wrapped up in admiration of his mother and in his work. He is twenty years older than her and always wants to be superior to her and dominate her. On the other hand ,Freddy is her age , he also is a gentleman and he loves her. Unfortunately , he has no money , no occupation and is not clever enough to earn a living . At Colonel Pickering’s suggestion they open a flower shop (funded at first by him) which is not a commercial success at first, but eventually flourishes .Mrs. Eynsford Hill and Clara have no objections to the marriage.

    As Shaw tells us in his epilogue, this was how the story really ended. It was a romance only in the wider sense of the word. So much, then, for any of us who like to hang on to Higgins' final confident air of the original text and believe there could have been the "happy ending" which the author despised.

    One forms the impression that this production by Richard Mathews - his first as temporary director at the theatre - has been much influenced by the epilogue. There is in the main characterizations a foretaste of what is to come and Eliza, in her final verbal battle with Higgins, conveys more confidence and independence than I have felt before. Ann Firbank has brought great beauty to the role and a considerable understanding of it, but the progression of her accent is hardly in time with her development, visually, as a lady. Her flower girl speech was common, but soft rather than raucous, and one felt last night that Higgins's task was not to be so difficult after all. At Mrs. Higgins's "At Home" she was superb, wringing the comedy from the beautifully-spoken account of how her aunt was "done in", but by the end of the play she was too natural where she should have been too perfect.

    Alan Jay Lerner, probably the most successful adapter of Shaw's Pygmalion, commented: "Shaw explains how Eliza ends not with Higgins but with Freddy and—Shaw and Heaven forgive me!—I am not certain he is right." Many critics would agree with this sentiment. A recent analysis of the play goes so far as to dismiss the Epilogue as a bit of Shavian frivolity and to cite the "happy ending" Shaw himself wrote for Pascal's film as the proper denouement of a play which is persuasively categorized by one critic as a play which follows "the classic pattern of satirical comedy" [Milton Crane mPMLA, vol.66, 1956].

    Shaw concludes his work in his "Epilogue." He tells what happens after Doolittle's wedding. He states that it is likely that the heroine of the romance would marry the hero, but this would not be in keeping with the characterizations. That Liza is remade is plausible, but that she would marry Higgins is unthinkable.

    Eliza is fond of Higgins and of Pickering and them of her .She fits in well at Wimpole Street, a household that needs a ladylike woman. In my opinion They can support and advise her. She can’t go back to her old life(her speech and manner does not fit in there any longer) or marry a man like her father.

    Pygmalion is one of Shaw's most popular plays as well as one of his most straightforward ones. The form has none of the complexity that we find in Heartbreak House or Saint Joan, nor are the ideas in Pygmalion nearly as profound as the ideas in any of Shaw's other major works. Yet the ending of Pygmalion provokes an interesting controversy among critics. Higgins and Eliza do not marry at the end of the written text, while the play as it is usually produced often does reconcile the two main characters. Obviously many directors and many readers feel that the apparent unromantic ending is an arbitrary bit of sarcasm appended to the play merely for spite.....

    As the reader may not anticipate, Shaw does not follow the typical storyline of the woman and the man of the opposite lives, who end up falling in love with each other. Contrarily, Eliza remains strong, refusing to fall for any sense of false hope, and the lack of respect given by Higgins. She persists and regardless of Higgins' continuous begging, she stays with Freddy.

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