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Examine some of the differences between Higgins in Pygmalion and Frank in Educating Rita.

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Introduction

Examine some of the differences between Higgins in Pygmalion and Frank in Educating Rita. In Ovid's Metamorphoses, the ancient myth of "Pygmalion" was written down. The myth was about Pygmalion, a king of Cyprus, who was revolted with the women around him and decided to make a gorgeous statue of a woman that he named Galatea. He became infatuated and later in love with the statue when he had completed her, he prayed to Aphrodite to make it become real. Aphrodite breathed life into the statue and Pygmalion and Galatea got married. "Educating Rita" by Willy Russell and "Pygmalion" by George Bernard Shaw are both modern interpretations of this legend, though neither has the romantic ending of the myth itself. Both plays are based on the idea of a person 'creating' someone else. Higgins 'creates' Eliza; Frank 'creates' Rita, not literally, like Pygmalion, but by sculpting their personalities and transforming them into something different. By educating Rita and Eliza, they are given more opportunities in life and will be more respected. Professor Higgins teaches Eliza how to act like a lady because he has a bet that he can pass her off as a duchess at the Embassy Ball in six months, which he does. ...read more.

Middle

They are both very good teachers, though in different ways. Higgins is remorseless and has no real respect for Eliza, as he shows when he constantly insults her; "draggle-tailed guttersnipe" and "squashed cabbage leaf". Frank is more sympathetic towards Rita and treats her with more respect, though he gets angry when she doesn't work. Frank is employed as a lecturer and tutor at a university, but Higgins is an amateur teacher, not paid, and phonetics is more his hobby than his profession. Neither of them conforms to the social expectations attached to them; Frank despises them, and consequently Rita is like a breath of fresh air to him, and Higgins simply does not care how others regard him. Higgins is extremely self-confident, happy with himself and smug. Frank, on the other hand, is not at all self-confident, and is very unhappy with his life. He has become an alcoholic and thinks he is a failure. He likes Rita and allows her to talk a lot to him, because he finds her interesting and she introduces him to a kind of life he knows nothing about. In Pygmalion, Higgins is the one who talks more, and is far more overbearing and dominating in his manner towards Eliza than Frank is to Rita. ...read more.

Conclusion

Frank is more insecure and less sure of himself, so the actor performing this role would have to be different from the one playing Higgins. When George Bernard Shaw wrote his play, Pygmalion, he was partly basing his character Professor Higgins on himself. However, Willy Russell made Rita more like himself, which shows where the main difference between the Pygmalion figures lies. The stronger character in each play is the one based on the author, and as Frank was not based on Willy Russell, he is immediately different from Higgins. Overall, I would say that Frank and Higgins do have a few similarities in the plays, but this is mainly to do with the role they play in the story rather than their personalities. In one respect, Higgins and Frank are very similar. They both underestimated their pupil, and were surprised at the outcome of their teaching. Neither fully realised that the person they were helping to create would have a mind of her own, and would make her own decisions. Higgins is very surprised when Eliza throws his slippers at him, and Frank is also surprised when Rita makes friends with the students at the university. In a way, the original Pygmalion was more successful in his task because his statue was entirely created by him and was completely ruled by him. ...read more.

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