Submission for a Better Life

     Upon first reading George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion and Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe's 1956 My Fair Lady, I did not know what to think of Eliza Doolittle. It is good to better one's self, but to go through cruel treatment during the process is asking too much. I suppose what she did, though, could be compared to going to college. I am referring to the fact that Eliza began as a poor, uneducated flower girl and ended up as the picture-perfect lady. To attain this, she had to struggle and face many obstacles; number one being Higgins. She had to submit to his ways in order for him to do the job.

     I look at Eliza and ask, "Would I put myself through torture to have a better chance in life?" I conclude no, but let us compare her accomplishment to those who choose to attend college as I do. We all, as Eliza was, start off uneducated and foolish in the ways of this world and what we want. We then decide that college is the best route to take. Eliza, in turn, chose to get speaking lessons so she could acquire a better job. She then went through countless hours of practice and work that was unbearable. We college kids endure hours of classes and unbearable homework. We and Eliza both persevere, though, because we know what the results will be. We even both put up with teachers that we sometimes believe are too demanding, yet we know that they are seeing improvements in us because of it.

     I presume I admire Eliza now that I see she is a lot like me and my peers. The two plays of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady portray her basically the same. I did not see many outstanding differences in her overall character. After reading and viewing all four versions, including the 1938 film, directed by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, and the 1964 film, directed by George Cukor, I came to love Audrey Hepburn's version of Eliza the best. Hepburn captured her soul. She was able to transform her beautiful self into a dirty flower girl and then emerge throughout the movie into a graceful woman. Her accent was impressive. On top of that, the entire movie was beautiful to watch. It was vibrant and colorful. The film Pygmalion, in its drab black and white, took away from the viewing experience. Leslie Howard was not powerful enough. His voice did not "boom" as I expected Higgins to. It was a disappointment. I suppose I am prejudiced, though, because I have viewed My Fair Lady so many times.

     In conclusion, Eliza Doolittle is a role model character. She endured countless hours of torture to become a better person. She turned her life around and did not let anyone stand in her way. She proves that women can do what they want in this world if they put their minds to it.

Andrea Lea Yates

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