The Mask of Acceptance

         After watching the 1964 musical My Fair Lady produced by Jack Warner and directed by George Cukor. I was left in awe of how well structured this film is. The motion picture is a musical version of George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion and commanded my attention from the beginning of the film. The story tells of a Cockney flower girl named Eliza (Audrey Hepburn) born and raised upon the streets, finds trial and triumph in trying to find acceptance of a lady in a life that she is envious of. To obtain this acceptance she "hires" a phonetics professor named Higgins (Rex Harrison), which brutally whips and manipulates her into the lady she desires.

         In life we are all searching for something or some way to better ourselves to be accepted in this society. Whether it is influences from parents or peers, acceptance equals being comfortable with one's self. After reading Pygmalion, I pondered why a woman would go through such hell that Higgins put her through to become a "proper" lady in society. Eliza showed me in My Fair Lady that she wanted acceptance before she even started taking lessons, by going out and buying fancy clothes that a "lady" would wear in public. She knew from the encounter on the streets with Higgins that she had to have on her "Sunday's best" new clothes, or he would look down upon her more than he did. I have wondered also if she felt she had lost acceptance points with Higgins when her drunken father, Alfred Doolittle (Stanley Holloway)came to his home asking for penance. I feel we have all been in situations where relatives embarrass us and make us feel less acceptable in public.

         Eliza was not the only one in the book that wanted acceptance, Higgins wanted acceptance from Colonel Pickering (Wilfred Hyde-White). He wanted to show the Colonel that he was the master mind that he read about in books. He accomplished this by treating Eliza (Audrey Hepburn) like a rag doll or trained canine. She was to act and speak the way that he wanted her to so as to boost the pride of his ego.

         I feel that most do not pity Eliza for the way she was trained for acceptance by Higgins. It is only human nature to crave acceptance and to want society to think the best of the individual. Although Eliza turns into a gentle lady, she takes off her mask in the end and realizes that she is strong and untouchable to cowards such as Higgins. No matter how much she changed for acceptance she knew that what she had got from Higgins was in fact a gift that would help her well being all together.

         In conclusion, Eliza showed me that even though we obtain our desires and wants that we may still not be satisfied or accepted. Audrey Hepburn did not receive a Best Actress award for this film. However, in my eyes she did a very awesome job and connected the feelings that Eliza was having in Pygmalion.

Preston Bradley

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