For Love or Money

     When George Bernard Shaw's play 1913 Pygmalion was adapted into a musical film, in 1964, directed by George Cukor, it was not only changed into a colorful musical but was also transformed from a social commentary into a romance. It is my belief that in the original play not only was there no romantic spark between Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins, but also that there is some evidence suggesting Higgins may have been a homosexual.

     The transformation of a common flower girl into a distinguished lady in the play shows the social prejudices that we have based on speech, dress, and manner. When Eliza leaves Higgins at the conclusion of the play, we know that she has chosen morality and independence over the financial security that Higgins has offered. Yet in the film she (Audrey Hepburn) goes back to Higgins (Rex Harrison), suggesting some sort of love interest.

     In the play this romance simply does not exist. Although it is not provable, the reason for this may be that Higgins is gay. When he calls himself "a confirmed old bachelor," this does not necessarily imply homosexuality. But other comments do, such as when he tells Eliza, "You're what I should call attractive. That is, to the people in the marrying line." Whether Higgins is a confirmed bachelor or not, he would still find a good-looking woman attractive if he was heterosexual.

     Another statement by Higgins that I find very precarious is evident when he says to his mother, "My idea of a lovable woman is someone as like you as possible." I cannot think of any straight male wanting to marry a woman just like his mother, except for maybe Sigmund Freud. Higgins saying that a lovable woman is like a mother may suggest he has no romantic interest towards females.

     While one may have to read too much into the play to conclude that Higgins is gay, the same would have to be done to prove a romantic spark. Yet in the movie the love is obvious, Higgins even sings about it at the end. The reason for this is that the play version of the story is just too boring to translate to an upbeat musical. They had to change the verbally abusive relationship between Eliza and Higgins into a romance, and the terrible way that Mr. Doolittle treats Eliza into a comical situation. No one would have gone to see the original story with songs added.

Brooks Dawkins

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