A Modern-Day Cinderella

     In the 1913 written version of the play Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw, and the 1938 film adaptation, directed by Anthony Asquith/Leslie Howard, Eliza Doolittle (Wendy Hiller on screen) plays the role of a flower girl who wants nothing more out of life but to talk and act like a lady. As a sort of science project and bet taken on by Henry Higgins (Leslie Howard in the film) and Colonel Pickering (Scott Sunderland in the movie), Eliza is put through a transformation to change her from a life rags to riches. This transformation involved taking lessons to change every aspect of her former street life.

     In this Cinderella-like transformation, Eliza leaves her former dirty, vulgar, street life to become a sophisticated elegant lady. Through the help of Higgins, Pickering, and Mrs. Pearce, acted on screen by Jean Cadell, she was not only able to dress like a lady but also talk like one. Throughout the main part of the film Eliza's main focus of transformation to a lady involved phonetics, which is the study of language and speech. Through continuous practice she was able to master this art, which thus enabled her to attain the essence of becoming a lady.

     In closing, Eliza Doolittle's humorous transformation from the life of a flower girl to a lady resembling the fairy-tale Cinderella in that her main goal was to attain a higher plateau in life. By meeting her prince charming in the form of Henry Higgins, she was able to truly become a lady. Likewise, despite the new clothes, material surroundings, and phonetic lessons, the end of the film demonstrates how a true lady is something only seen from the inside of a woman, no matter what surroundings are present in her life. Thus, even though at the end of the film Eliza had truly become a beautiful lady in every way, the real lady lived inside her heart and mind.

Krysta Ernstberger

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