†††††††† Why do people always want what they can't have? In Act 2, scene 4 of Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe's 1956 My Fair Lady, directed in 1965 by George Cukor and based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion, Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) asks Colonel Pickering (Wilfred Hyde-White): "Why can't a woman be more like a man?" Eliza (Audrey Hepburn) has finally had enough and left Higgins. Henry can't understand why she would leave. Higgins gives many examples of how men are better than women in his eyes. The comical thing about this list is that Henry does not necessarily fit into any of these molds!
†††††††† First, Henry says, "Men are so honest." However, Henry himself has moments of dishonesty. When Eliza first comes to Higgins' home, Rex Harrison threatens to have her walloped with a broomstick if she misbehaves. Pickering would never allow Higgins to treat Eliza in that manner; and everyone knows it, except Eliza. Eliza, on the other hand, is honest. She keeps her word to Higgins and works hard to learn what he could teach her. Audrey Hepburn played Eliza to be so honest that it is impossible to see her as anything else.
†††††††† Henry also says that men are "historically fair." How fair is Henry to Eliza? He threatens her and treats her as his secretary, as well as his pet project to keep from boredom. Eliza truly is fair. She does as she is told asked at every turn in her experience with Higgins. She works long and hard to perfect her new language. She also went above and beyond her responsibility as a daughter when she was in contact with her father.
†††††††† Henry also states that a man "[Ö] will always give your back a pat" when you win. However, Henry fails to pat Eliza's back. He is only interested in patting his own back. He also is skilled at making Pickering pat his back for him. They fail to remember that Eliza is the one who has done all the real work to become what they have wanted.
†††††††† Henry asks why women all follow each other. I failed to see Eliza following anyone. She aspires to be a lady in a shop, but only because she wished to better herself, not follow someone else. He also asks why "a woman can't learn to use her head?" Eliza does use her head. Henry has failed to use his to realize that the best thing for Eliza is to get away from him!
†††††††† Higgins asks why women do what their mothers do instead of growing up like their fathers. Eliza's mother is never really introduced. However, we do meet her father; and Eliza will not get anywhere by behaving like him!
†††††††† Higgins believes that men are pleasant and easy to please. Eliza is met with contempt when she enters Henry's study, and he never really releases it. Rex Harrison does an excellent job of looking down on Eliza and letting her know that she is beneath him. At the same time, he is difficult to live with and impossible to please. Eliza is happy with learning and appreciates her living quarters and her clothes. Henry, on the other hand, yells and screams and keeps her up all night because she can't say, "The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain" with his idea of perfection.
†††††††† These are just seven reasons why a woman can't be more like a man. Henry Higgins is an impossible bachelor, and Eliza Doolittle is a flower girl with a heart of roses. Thank goodness women aren't more like men!