The Battle of the Endings

         George Bernard Shaw wrote the play Pygmalion in 1913, which was made into a musical in 1956 by Alan Jay Lerner, called My Fair Lady, filmed in 1964 by George Cukor, Both are quite entertaining but are not exactly like. There are differences between the play Pygmalion and the musical My Fair Lady. Overall, I think that My Fair Lady is the better of the two because it has a better ending and a greater feel of the relationship between Higgins and Eliza. My Fair Lady has a better ending than Pygmalion because the complex relationship between Higgins and Eliza will continue to develop in an optimistic way, whereas Shaw pessimistically put an end to the less complex relationship in his play.

         First of all, Shaw's pessimistic look at the world has led to a bad ending in Pygmalion. Pygmalion's ending has Eliza leaving Higgins for good to marry Freddie. This is not realistic. Eliza has come to be less worried because she has not had to worry about if she will have enough money for her room or if she will have any food while living in Higgins house. If she marries Freddie, she would have to take care of both Freddie and herself. She does not have a job, much less a business. Eliza is not even sure what she could do now that she does not belong anywhere. She has a really good life of being wanted and needed by Higgins; she also has no wants while staying with Higgins, so it does not make sense for her to take off with Freddie. I would also like to point out that she really does not even know Freddie at all. This is why Pygmalion's ending does not make sense; it is a bad ending.

         In preparation for the ending, My Fair Lady better illustrates the relationship between Higgins and Eliza, as depicted by Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn. In Pygmalion, it is not quite clear what relationship they really have or what feelings they have for each other. However, in My Fair Lady, Harrison and Hepburn play up the "love-hate" relationship the two characters have. She wants to kill him, but she mentions to Freddie that she wants either Higgins or him to kiss her. He calls her names, such as "squashed cabbage leaf"; but, as soon as she leaves, he does not know what to do or what he is supposed to do. There is also that wonderful part after she leaves him at his mother's house because, on his walk home, he shows with his look of sadness how much he really does miss her. When she does come back at the end of the musical, he looks happy for a moment then hides his feeling by pulling his hat down over his face and asking her where his slippers are. In so doing, though, his happy voice proclaims that he is glad that she is staying for good. Unlike Pygmalion, My Fair Lady depicts a realistic love/hate relationship, and is comically wonderful to see. This is why My Fair Lady better illustrates Eliza's and Higgins' relationship.

         Clearly, My Fair Lady has a better ending than Pygmalion because of Eliza's and Higgins complex relationship will be further developed in a more optimistic way in contrast to the way Pygmalion pessimistically put an end to their relationship by having her run off with Freddie, a weakling whom she barely knows.

Wendy Copeland

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