Higgins ahead of His Time

     For its time, George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play Pygmalion, with its principal character Henry Higgins goes far beyond the normal. Never before Pygmalion had a character been so forthcoming, loud, obnoxious, and humorous. Higgins embraced a character that had not been breached before, but which opened the door for seeing that type of character very often depicted now.

     Although, Higgins was an intelligent man, he was not quite so smart as he thought. He had no common-sense people skills, and this laid out the perfect platform for the humor in George Bernard Shaw's play. Higgins constantly sets up a stage to perform his talents, as goofy as he may look doing it. The humor that Leslie Howard brought to the screen in the 1938 film adaptation of Pygmalion, directed by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, was perfection. Howard captured the charm of Higgins and raised him to a higher level of forced likability with his wit-and-nonsense combo.

     Higgins is supposed to be teaching Eliza (Wendy Hiller in the film) how to act and behave, while Higgins' very own mother (Marie Lohr on screen) is constantly having to give him a "go-to-hell" look in front of her at-home guests. I found my favorite part of Shaw's play was Higgins' character, for the rawness and forwardness it brought out at a very early time in the twentieth century.

Kaycee Cooper

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