Annoyance Turned Elegance

         "I'm a good girl I am," is all that runs through my head when I think of the movie, My Fair Lady, directed by George Cukor in 1964, which was adapted from George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion. I can just imagine Eliza Doolittle, played by Audrey Hepburn, screeching these words over and over as Professor Henry Higgins, depicted by Rex Harrison roughly taught her how to be an elegant lady.

         Eliza, a homely flower girl from the London gutters finds herself being ridiculed by Higgins one night while selling flowers in Covent Garden. He is bashing her accent and the horrible way she pronounced her words. To him, a well-educated professor of phonetics, this is a despicable act of degrading the English language. He (Higgins) makes a bet with Colonel Pickering, played by Wilfred Hyde White, that he can transform Eliza into an elegant women with all of the skills necessary to attend the Queen's ball. When Eliza, who has overheard this, shows up at Higgin's home, Pickering takes him up on the offer. This point marks the beginning of Eliza's transformation.

         Eliza soon after agrees to let Higgins teach her ladylike speech and qualities that she hopes she may use to her advantage when he is done. They spend hours upon hours practicing and pronouncing. When the project starts to close in, we the audience get to forget about the annoying painful sounds of the flower girl, which are no more, and get to experience the elegance of an emerging lady. The timeline for the total process is six months. Pickering does not believe Higgins is capable of this task, but he sure is. However, the downfall to this is the way he treats her. He foolishly behaves like an imbecile that has no clue that the world is happening around her. Eliza is not the brightest thing that walked the face of the Earth, but she knows what is happening, especially at the end of the play when the bet is completed. The ball and the bet were a success. Higgins and Pickering drink and smoke to the success of what Higgins accomplished, while they ignore Eliza. Eliza becomes very offended at the realization that she was a bet to these men. I do not blame her for throwing Higgins' slippers; he deserved it.

         After this the play begins to close and Eliza is able to utilize her lady characteristics. She leaves Higgins' estate and sets out to find work. She is a confident young woman now and has enough self-esteem to get here through life comfortably.

Lauren Cline

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