My Fair Lady: What It Is Like To Be Rich

     In every society our entertainers like to poke fun at some things that do not really make sense to them and often upon further examination do not make sense to use either. In Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe's 1956 musical play, My Fair Lady, filmed in 1964 by George Cukor, the authors, as did George Bernard Shaw in the 1913 play Pygmalion, poked particular fun at the high society of the day. During that time high society was very flamboyant and hypocritical. Much of higher society did not make many public appearances; but, much like today, when they did, they tried to outdo each other with the most glamorous or expensive dresses or outfits.

     The horse racing scene in My Fair Lady in particular pokes fun at this with all the different hats and gowns looking as if they had just been bought and would never be worn again. In other words, the money to make them was thrown away after they were worn once.

     Another satirical commentary is made when Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) and Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) are in the box of Higgins' mother (Gladys Cooper) at the Ascot races. Eliza talks with a very aloof tone, which exemplifies the attitude higher-class people had for all of the common people. Higher-class societies often intermarried in fact, and it was rare that "New Money" came in to be fully accepted. Thus, if one were not in the circle that had always been, one was looked down upon.

     In the end, though, comes the final slap in the face for the higher society. At the ball the mysteriously unknown Eliza is investigated and found to "be Royalty," which is, in fact, hilarious since she is merely a street urchin, as such creatures were called.

     The point that is made quite clearly in this production is simply that having money does not matter so long as one can act as one does. Having the high-class accent and putting on some high-class clothes is just about all one has to do to make the higher class believe that one is one of them.

Bryan D McGregor

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