What about Freddy?

     I read the 1913 play Pygmalion (by George Bernard Shaw) and saw the 1938 film of the same name (directed by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard). The film and play are very similar, I guess, because George Bernard Shaw was involved in the writing of the screenplay.

     I was affected by the character of Freddy in the story. In the play, Freddy likes Eliza instantly at Mrs. Higgins' house and wants to walk her across the park. Then he goes outside to watch her leave in a taxi. We see Freddy is waiting outside Higgins' house when Eliza comes out after winning the bet for Henry. Once Eliza notices Freddy waiting for her there, she decides to cling to him instead of jumping into the river. She is very upset, and Freddy is a convenient source of comfort for her.

     The movie makes clear how crazy Freddy (David Tree) is about Eliza (Wendy Hiller). He repeatedly visits Higgins' house to see Eliza, and he brings flowers every time. The poor boy is turned away every time, and it is understandable why he waits under her window at night to see her lights go out.

     I feel for Freddy especially in the movie because I can see his expression every time he looks at Eliza. He is so animated and excited. I can tell he is crazy about her in the play, but in the movie I can see it.

     Another reason I feel sorry for Freddy in the movie is that Eliza talks to Higgins (Leslie Howard) as if she is going to marry Freddy, but in the end she goes back to Wimpole Street. What must Eliza have said by way of explanation to the poor boy? I read that Shaw intended Eliza to end up with Freddy, so I felt happy for him in the play.

     It is incredible to me that before Eliza's transformation she would have been flabbergasted if someone like Freddy wanted to be with her. I am disappointed in the Eliza in the movie because she toys with Freddy, who really loves her, and returns to Higgins, who will always treat her like a servant.

Deborah Bland

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