Just Sing What You Mean!

         The film that is the subject for discussion in this paper is My Fair Lady. The play was written by George Bernard Shaw, and the musical play was written by Alan Jay Lerner. The film version was directed by George Cukor. Actors included Audrey Hepburn (Eliza Doolittle), Rex Harrison (Professor Higgins), Stanley Holloway (Alfred P. Doolittle), Wilfrid Hyde-White (Colonel Hugh Pickering), Gladys Cooper (Mrs. Higgins), Jeremy Brett (Freddy Eynsford-Hill), and Mona Washbourne (Mrs. Pearce). Being a musical, the film had many songs that gave me insight into the true personalities of the characters. The insight into the personalities of characters through song is the basis of this paper.

         When Professor Higgins sang, “Let a Woman in Your Life,” it gave great insight to what he really thought about women. He went on and on about how men enjoy doing things their own way and how they enjoy having quiet time. In contrast to this, he sang about how a woman would totally disrupt a man’s way of doing things. In his eyes, women do nothing but worry about their hair, go shopping, and invite all of their girl friends over to gossip. Higgins views these particular traits of women as being very bothersome, and so he vows to “never let a woman in my life.”

         “Just You Wait, Henry Higgins,” was a very powerful song that Eliza sang. In this song, she was very angry with Higgins because he had been pushing her so hard to learn her lessons. She sings of how she will not care about him at all when she becomes successful. She even goes to the point of saying that she would ask the King of England for Higgins’s head on a platter. Those are extremely strong words to use. This song demonstrates her frustration at being pushed too far by Higgins. I would have hated to been in his shoes at that moment!

         In Eliza’s song, “I Could Have Danced All Night,” I was able to see that she was actually a romantic at heart. She sang about how wonderful it was when she danced with Higgins. She proclaimed that she could have “danced all night, and still go back for more.” Dancing with Higgins in that way opened up new doors for her that she never thought possible. When they were dancing, they became equals. She was no longer a flower-girl, and Higgins was no longer her teacher. They were two adults enjoying each other’s company.

         In Freddy’s song, “On the Street Where You Live,” I was able to really get inside his head and see how he felt about Eliza. In the song, Freddy speaks of how he had been down her street in the past, but now everything had changed since he knew that she lived there. By knowing that Eliza lived on that particular street, Freddy wanted to be there all the time to be near her. He does not even care that “people stop and stare” because “they don’t bother me.” This song shows how much he loves Eliza. I personally think that it is very romantic for him to show his affection in this way.

         In the song, “Why Can’t a Woman be More Like a Man?,” Higgins continues his assault on women in general. At this point, he is very upset with Eliza for leaving in the middle of the night. He goes on and on about how men would never do things like that. Men are not upset if another man does not call, and they do not get angry when they do not get flowers. According to Henry, men are very considerate, and hardly ever get angry. This song really shows what he thinks about women. He wonders, “Why can’t a woman be more like me?” This also shows how self-centered he is.

         Eliza’s song, “Show Me,” was another great example of how she felt. She was tired of people talking and talking. She did not want Freddy to “tell” her how he felt, but she wanted him to “show her” how he felt. She was tired of empty words that did not mean anything. This feeling was a result of Higgins having pushed her to a breaking point with all of his words. This song demonstrated Eliza’s need for physical affection.

         There are many more songs in the film that helped me delve into the minds of the characters, but I chose these six songs. These six songs in particular show the real dispositions and attitudes of the characters at any given moment in the film. I personally feel that the songs were able to express what the characters could not say in conversations. The songs gave me, as a viewer, the ability to see the deeper sides of the characters. It was even better because I could sing along with them!

Alicia Hughes

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