One might assume that throughout George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play, Pygmalion, filmed in 1938 by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, Pygmalion, the hero and heroine will end up romantically together, despite the fact that Eliza Doolittle (Wendy Hiller) returns to Henry Higgins (Leslie Howard) in the end for what will probably be more of the status quo. In fact, the biggest disappointment to me about Shaw's work is that, though it is called a romance, the characters are not, and do not fall in love during the course of the play. After reviewing it again, I have found many reasons why the main characters do not end up together. Henry Higgins is not only unfit to marry the young flower girl he has turned into the likeness of a high society lady; he is unfit to marry anyone at all. Unfortunately, he will always remain a bachelor.
One major reason why Higgins will never marry is that he does not have the need. He already has his idea of who a perfect woman is: his mother! One can tell how Higgins adores his mother as Shaw describes in great detail her simple, stylish furniture and decorating style. This makes one believe that she is a polite, charming woman of good taste. While Higgins tells his mother that he has brought Eliza into their home from the streets, Mrs. Higgins appears to be in awe of her son. This proves to the reader that she is aware her son is not perfect, but thoughtful of others.
A second reason why Higgins will not marry is that marriage goes against what he believes in. His stubborn independence keeps him from actively seeking a wife, especially because he believes he does not need one. After all, his perfect mother and Eliza assist him in everything he does. When Eliza argues with him that he never treated her well, he responds that her problem is not that he does not treat a flower girl as if she was a duchess; it is that he treats a duchess as if she was a flower girl. This is a perfect example of Higgins' personality; he does not go out of his way to be polite to anyone; he simply speaks the truth no matter how much it may be inappropriate.
However, I was most disturbed, not by the fact that Higgins did not marry, but that he did not fall in love with Eliza. Both Higgins and Eliza were very independent; however, I really believe Eliza fell in love with him. I began to realize throughout the movie that Eliza's ideal man was one who showered her with attention. In fact, I believe she only was attracted to Freddy (David Tree on screen) because he was first attracted to her. In the beginning of the play, Eliza attempts to do nice things for Higgins, and he does not appreciate it. Ironically, at the end of the play she yells at him exactly what she is thinking; and he praises her for it.
Another major reason why Higgins did not marry Eliza is their difference in social class. Though Higgins teaches her to look and act like a member of the upper class, she is still a "flower girl picked from the gutter."
When all is said and done, marriage just does not seem as if it would work for Higgins. After all, he has his perfect mother to take care of him.