All's Fair in Love and Linguistics

     In Pygmalion (1913), by George Bernard Shaw, a professor of linguistics takes on the project of changing a gutter rat into an elegant princess. In 1956, the story was adapted into a musical play, My Fair Lady, by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe, which was filmed in 1964 by George Cukor, which has more intimate feelings with added music. This charming story shows that it is not important what is on the inside; it is the outside appearance that counts. Would Professor Higgins have taken a liking to Eliza if she had never changed? I think not

.      Professor Higgins (Rex Harrison) and his cohort, Colonel Pickering (Wilfred Hyde-White), change everything about Eliza (Audrey Hepburn): her speech, her mannerisms, and her dress. The original Eliza is gone, and now she is just a model of perfection. The two men and the one woman are similar to many looking for relationships. I believe Professor Higgins is unconsciously looking for someone to love. Many people believe they can change a person for the better in their eyes. However, Colonel Pickering and Professor Higgins have no concern for Eliza's feelings or hopes or what happens to her afterwards.

     Eliza is accepted into a world she had only dreamed of, but she is not accepted for who she is. She gets the approval of all she meets because of her appearance and speech. Unfortunately, Professor Higgins' approval seems to come too late in Pygmalion and almost too late in My Fair Lady.

     The play and musical have a few differences. The biggest difference is that in the musical Eliza comes back, just as weak women around the world in general do in bad relationships. On the other hand, Higgins keeps a consistent attitude throughout both works until the end when he is about to lose his slippers.

     While the added music in My Fair Lady helped to double the length of the play,the music created a softer mood than in Pygmalion. Thus, the audience was set up for the return of Eliza and the "happy ending." However, Pygmalion kept the rigid facts of change without flowery solos. Professor Higgins changed Eliza into something he wanted, she wised up, and he lost her. In either case, win, lose, or draw, the moral of the story: nothing ever stays the same, and all is fair in love and linguistics.

Ashley Burnett

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