Supporting Characters Support the Differences

         George Bernard Shaw wrote the play Pygmalion in 1913, which was made into a musical in 1956 by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, which is called My Fair Lady. Both are quite entertaining but are not exactly like. There are differences between the play Pygmalion and the musical My Fair Lady, which was filmed by George Cukor in 1964. Overall I think that My Fair Lady is the better the two because it has a better ending and a greater feel of the relationship between Higgins and Eliza. Among the differences between the two pieces of writing are the attitudes of two of the supporting female characters and the parts played by Eliza's father in the respective versions.

         First of all, the attitudes of two of the female supporting characters are different in the two versions. In Pygmalion, characters such as Mrs. Hill and Mrs. Pearce are nice. Mrs. Hill gives Eliza money for the flowers that fall out of her basket, when Freddie runs into her. On the contrary, in My Fair Lady, Mrs. Hill (Isobel Elsom) does not talk to Eliza (Audrey Hepburn), and does not present her with any money after Freddie (Jeremy Brett) has run into her. It is as if she were trying to get a way from Eliza as quickly as possible. In Pygmalion, the housekeeper, Mrs. Pearce, is quite nice to her when Eliza comes to Mr. Higgins house. She does not comment on her clothes, and she tells Higgins that Eliza had arrived in a cab. However, in My Fair Lady, Mrs. Pearce (Mona Washburn) is not as nice to her. She comments on her bad voice and clothes in front of Higgins (Rex Harrison). She also tells Eliza that it does not matter what she has come in. The attitudes of these two characters are quite dissimilar in both the musical and play.

         Secondly, the parts played by Eliza's father in Pygmalion and My Fair Lady are different as well. In Pygmalion, Eliza's father, Alfred P. Doolittle, has only a few small scenes, such as coming to Higgins' house to get money and later on showing up at Mrs. Higgins' house to announce his up and coming marriage. On the contrary, in My Fair Lady, the part of Eliza's father has been built up a lot more than it was in Pygmalion. In the musical, Doolittle (Stanley Holloway) has a scene in Covent Garden when he forcibly tries to get money from his daughter, after which, he sings: "With A Little Luck," about avoiding work. As he does in Pygmalion, Doolittle shows up at Higgins' house to get money from him. Later on, in the musical he runs into Eliza in Covent Garden and tells her of his up and coming marriage. When she leaves, he sings: "I'm Getting Married in the Morning." Eliza's father's part in the work is quite dissimilar from the play to the musical.

         In conclusion, in addition to the endings, the two supporting female characters and the parts played by Eliza's father are quite different in Pygmalion and My Fair Lady.

Wendy Copeland

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