The Perfect Couple

         In George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play Pygmalion, Eliza Doolittle ends up making a perfect couple with Freddy Enysford-Hill; but in Alan Lerner's and Frederick Loewe's 1956 play My Fair Lady, filmed in 1964 by George Cukor, Eliza (Audrey Hepburn) decides to stay with Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) as part of a perfect couple.

         In both versions, Eliza begins her speech lessons under Higgins, whom she had met one night in Covent Garden, as she had also encountered Freddy, who was trying to catch a taxi for his mother and sister, Mrs. and Miss Eynsford-Hill. He had bragged to Pickering and others that he could pass this flower girl off as a duchess. Eliza had listened to him and has decided to see if she really could learn to speak like a lady and own a real flower shop.

         Later on she formally meets Freddy, his mother, and sister, Mrs. and Miss Eynsford-Hill at Mrs. Higgins "at home" in Pygmalion and at the Ascot races in My Fair Lady. Eliza and Freddy begin seeing each other during these times. He is there for her when she needs him. After the ball at Buckingham Palace and her success with the Queen of Transylvania and her son, who had danced with her to open the ball, and the interpreter, who had proclaimed that she was a Hungarian princess, Higgins and Pickering do not give her any credit for acting so well. They congratulate themselves and have a couple of drinks to celebrate, bragging about how easy the victory had been. This situation really hurts Eliza. On the other hand, Freddy is waiting outside the house when she runs away to comfort and love her.

         Hence, at the end of Pygmalion, they make a perfect young couple, although in the epilogue, Eliza and Higgins remain good friends. However, in My Fair Lady, the tables turn a little with Eliza's final decision on whom she should choose to be with. The story line is the same up until after the ball. She still goes to Freddy (Jeremy Brett) after she has run away from Higgins; she knows Freddy loves her, and she could trust him and be happy with him. Besides, Higgins has always asserted that he would never let a woman in his life, although the reader could see the tenseness in his heart when he learns of Eliza and Freddy on the way to becoming a couple.

         Despite their differences in My Fair Lady, some hidden desire within her unconscious pulls her to Higgins, who is as stubborn as she is. After all, they have connected strongly with each other. Higgins has taught her how to speak, dress, and act like a lady. He has cared for her for without charging her any expenses at all. They have gotten used to each other's habits and daily living. They have become accustomed to the environment they have both provided. In the end, both of them have missed each other's company and aggressiveness that came after arguments. The little things were remembered and lost. Eliza comes back after their parting quarrel at the home of Mrs. Higgins (Gladys Cooper) and cutely re-enactes the first day she had come to his house asking for lessons. At last they have become a perfect couple and continue to love each other's stubbornness more than anything else.

         The musical, laid-back quality of the film increased her desire for Higgins; she needed that feeling of security and home that she has been lucky enough to find with Higgins. The musical quality, cuteness of the songs and costumes, and the actors themselves all combined to encourage the couple's reunion, despite the fact that there is more surprise at the ending because some of the songs hint at the reluctance that they will become a couple. For example, Higgins sings about never letting a woman into his life, although he knows that he cares for Eliza and enjoys her company. Therefore, despite this song, the chorus of singing has brought the characters closer together and has brought out their emotions and desires. Hence, this makes the reunion between Higgins and Eliza more plausible.

         At the end of both stories, Eliza appears to be happy with the man she chooses. However, there is more of a connection between Eliza and Higgins in My Fair Lady. While Eliza and Freddy were together, they did not really connect and know each other's beliefs and qualities. They rushed into love haphazardly and did think about the compatibility. Eliza and Higgins have a better chance of making it as a perfect couple because they know each other better, and they know what to expect in a relationship together.

Rebecca Hardin

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