Colonel Pickering and Dr. Rank: Always a Kind Word

     In both Pygmalion, written in 1913 by George Bernard Shaw, and A Doll s House, written on 1879 by Henrik Ibsen, the lead female character does not have an equal relationship with the lead male character. The female, however, does have an equal relationship with one of the other male characters. In the original play, Pygmalion, as well as in the 1938 movie, directed by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, plus the 1956 musical play, My Fair Lady, by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe, and the 1964 musical film, directed by George Cukor, Eliza and Colonel Pickering have a healthy relationship with each other. Likewise in both movie versions of A Doll's House, directed in 1973 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland respectively, Nora and Dr. Rank also have a healthy relationship. In all versions, the two characters consider themselves equals.

     Colonel Pickering (Scott Sunderland/Wilfred Hyde-White) treats Eliza (Wendy Hiller/Audrey Hepburn) with the utmost kindness from the very beginning of their friendship. Even when she first comes off of the street he talks to her as if she were nobility. While Higgins (Leslie Howard/Rex Harrison) pushes Eliza very hard to learn, Pickering is as patient with her as possible. Pickering remains her only true friend during the whole time she is in the learning process. He never feels that he is superior to her; and, for this kind treatment, she is grateful.

     Dr. Rank (Trevor Howard/Ralph Richardson) has a relationship with Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom) that Torvald (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins) could never have. Nora confides in Dr. Rank and is not afraid to speak her mind. She will say things in front of him that she would never consider saying in front of Torvald. Dr. Rank knows that Nora is not to have macaroons, but he does not mind if she sneaks a few in on occasion. The connection between them is like the one between a brother and a sister. They each have total and complete confidence in the other.

     Eliza and Nora are able to find a rare friend in Colonel Pickering and Dr. Rank respectively. The women are able to find refuge with these two when they can escape from Higgins and Torvald. Without Pickering and Rank, the women would have a very difficult life.

Grant Apanowicz

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