Pygmalion Vs. My Fair Lady
Comparing Pygmalion to My Fair Lady
Numerous times a piece of literature is changed into a movie or musical it s plot and or theme has been changed to suit the director s thought of what would appeal to the public. One such example is Bernard Shaw s play Pygmalion. In this play Shaw s purpose and ideas were horribly misconstrued to the point at which he was forced to write an Epilogue to try to reconcile the injustice done to his masterpiece. In the Epilogue he bluntly expressed his points and purposes so that the ignorant public could no longer discount Shaw s theme of the play and change it in to a happy ending love story. Shaw s outrage was set off by the director s construction of characters and dialogue. Character s roles were strengthened and belittled according to the director s purpose. This was accomplished by added scenes, songs and changed dialogue accompanied with omitted scenes and minimizing other characters roles. One such character s role that was altered and changed from Shaw s entire purpose was Henry Higgins. The two main things that were altered in Henry Higgins character were his outlook on life and his profession accompanied closely by his relationship with Eliza.
Higgins outlook on life and profession and over all character was enhanced and did little to change the over all-purpose of Shaw. But nonetheless in multiple and added and omitted scenes accompanied by songs explaining his thought process strengthened and changed his character. One such scene was on the street corner when Higgins told the crowd their origin and dialect. This was emphasized to show Higgins profession and abilities. Also a dialogue is added to voice Higgins extremist opinion on poor grammar and speech. It is best said in the quote, not found in the play, A woman who utters such disgusting and depressing noises has no right to be anywhere, no right to live. Remember that you re a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech. That your nature language is the language of Shakespeare, Milton, and the Bible, don t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon. This quote is followed by the song Why can t the English teach their children to speak. These combined immensely strengthen Higgins views and opinion on language. Later Higgins voices like views on women with Colonel Pickering through the song Why can t a woman be more like a man. In the play Higgins simply states he is a confirmed old bachelor but in the movie it is over dramatized in the song. The best contribution that the movie bestows upon the play is in the dialogue where he expresses his purpose for taking on the bet. He says what could be more gratifying than changing a person s class and character solely through speech. This is and excellent line which captures Higgins purpose perfectly.
The other aspect that was greatly changed which so enraged Shaw was Higgins and Eliza s relationship. The move transfers from a condescending relationship to a love that will endure. It adds the scenes and events of Eliza s teachings, which the play passed by shortly. This is where we see the change in their relationship. In the beginning of the drills Higgins makes Eliza say a phrase every night and he says, You ll get much farther with the Lord if you learn not to offend his ears. Then later he is drilling her with marbles and she swallows one and he assures her he has plenty more. This is the character that Shaw would of approved of. For the first time one late night Higgins affirms Eliza and converses with her civilly and tells her she will succeed. At this moment Eliza can speak clearly and perform all the drills flawlessly. And it was triggered by Higgins affirmation. Here Eliza is shown admiring the Professor and has a song in which her feelings are expressed. Then Higgins expresses that he wants to reward Eliza for her accomplishments. Later scenes show Higgins determination and stubbornness hand in hand with his confidence in Eliza. Many different things fantasize their relationship such as Higgins worry for Eliza at the ball. At the beginning of the movie he wouldn t even have thought twice about her welfare. In the last song after Higgins was rebuked and discounted by Eliza he expresses that he loves and misses Eliza and doesn t know what he will do without her. Then at the last scene where Eliza returns and Higgins is overjoyed to see her but contains himself with the line, Where the devil are my slippers? This stripped Eliza of her independence and thus enraged Shaw.
Though the musical strengthened some aspects of the play, it mutilated Shaw s purpose of making Eliza independent. In the book at the end Eliza is the alpha person and teacher while Higgins is the outcast and rebuked by society. But in the musical Eliza and Higgins are falling in love and Eliza will fetch his slippers. Through this belittled characterization of Eliza, Higgins character is strengthened. This is just another way of the many that Higgins character was strengthened. The two points mentioned above are the main changes in the conversion from the play to the musical adaptation. You ask a person if he has read a certain book; or a student watches a movie or musical; in substitution for the literature and they think that are the same. But as displayed in this essay the original literature and the movie or misical can be totally different. This will always be true because not all literature will be appealing to the public or satisfy its needs and wants for perfect endings and tranquility. Thus you can never judge a book by the movie.
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