Father or Lover

         In every story, there seems to be a man and a woman who fall deeply in love. When reading the play Pygmalion, written by George Bernard Shaw in 1913, one pictures Henry Higgins as a young, striking professor and Eliza Doolittle as a young, beautiful beggar, hoping they will fall in love. When depicted on the screen in 1938 by directors Leslie Howard and Anthony Asquith, Leslie Howard portrays Prof. Higgins, and Wendy Hiller portrays Eliza; they are perfect for the roles. Wendy is beautiful, although not as pretty as Audrey Hepburn, who plays Eliza in My Fair Lady in 1964. Leslie is handsome and young, unlike the old Rex Harrison, who plays Henry opposite of Audrey. So, the question is, should Henry the professor be a love object for Eliza or a father figure for her?

         Definitely in the movie Pygmalion, Henry Higgins is a possible love object for Eliza; and, when she decides to stay with him after her lessons are complete, one hopes that she is not throwing her life away to wait on Higgins, fetching his slippers, especially when there is a young Freddy (David Tree), who is madly in love with her. One hopes and believes that, after she has lived with Higgins for so long that was a love spark between the two of them, and there is hope they will fall in love.

         However, in the movie My Fair Lady, Professor Henry Higgins is not a love object for Eliza, unless she is into much older "guys." Her better choice for love is Freddy (Jeremy Brett)] in this adaptation, although he is giddy and would have to work to get her what she wanted. Financially, she would be better with Higgins, but he would provide for her as a father would provide for his daughter. She will not be happy all around with either choice; she had grown accustomed to Higgins but wanted to be loved. Rex played a good Higgins; it would only been better if he was younger.

         George Bernard Shaw did not intend this to be a romance story; but, with today's standards, almost everyone wants love and happiness. Oftentimes, the original message and story is lost to twists and turns of how someone else wanted the story to be. One wants love in a story, so one sees a love attraction between Higgins and Eliza that was not even there. Sometimes, people need to step back and allow the writer to get what he wants--Higgins to be a father for Eliza, and not a lover.

Sarah Chandler

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