Opening Doors for Eliza

         In the 1913 play, Pygmalion, by Bernard Shaw, filmed in 1938 by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, we see Eliza (Wendy Hiller) in the beginning, a flower girl selling in the gutter. When Higgins (Leslie Howard) begins his efforts to transform Eliza from very poor creature to a duchess, this opens a wide range of doors for Eliza though she cannot decide which one she wants to open.

         This education is the start of a whole new world for her; when all these door have been opened, how is she expected to go back to her former life? She is expected to be able to look back and see the gutter life of Drury Lane and want to go back there, but she can see countless possibilities when she looks ahead. There are choices that she can make to improve her future. Eliza may marry; she may own her own shop; her dreams of a flower shop still fresh in her mind.

         Eliza says, "If only I could go back to my flower basket! I should be independent of both you and father [Mr. Doolittle] and all the world! Why did you take my independence from me? Why did I give it up? I am a slave now, for all my fine clothes." I believe that this statement is worth looking at because Eliza feels she has given up everything and is left without anywhere to go. She was a "created duchess" put into middle-class society. Her education provided understanding of herself and her potential. Eliza understands now that she can aspire far beyond selling flowers from a basket. Yet she cannot fulfill her dream of owning her flower shop without extensive further training in bookkeeping and further phonetics which Higgins could teach her, but she has left and will not "crawl back" to him. She may marry Freddy (David Tree), which seems the logical choice at this point, but that choice does not seem to offer all that much to her.

font size="+1">          The seriousness of her issues is climatically realized when she tells Freddy that she is going to the river to "make a hole in it" and commit suicide. People want to make rash decisions when faced with difficulties; and some do. Thankfully, Eliza realizes that her life is not worth ending over this predicament of not knowing what her future holds in store for her. Instead, she realizes that she wants to be with Freddy, and this decision opens new doors for a future with him. However, in the movie, she decides that Higgins has more to offer her, and so she returns to him and his open door.

Sarah Weaver

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