Comparing Pygmalion with the film My Fair lady

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Fernando Lutfalla

                        Comparing Pygmalion with My Fair lady

Pygmalion is a novel written by Bernard Shaw which portrays a comedy story. In 1964 however, George Cukor, director of My Fair Lady, created the film hoping to retain some similarities and also incorporate a few changes of his own. The productions carry a very similar role in certain aspects such as character interaction and the portrayal of social status, however clear differences can be seen in the two plots, especially in the ending.

Among the several similarities between the film and the play one of them is the likenesses between the two works in character interaction. For example, in both the play and the film, Professor Higgins has an autocratic paternal mentality regarding Eliza Doolittle. Together with this is the similarity between the language and phrases used by the characters. For example, when Higgins describes the character of Eliza as filthy and dirty in the film, the same exact words can be seen in Pygmalion. Like, for example, “You know, Pickering, if you consider a shilling, not as a simple shilling, but as a percentage of this girl’s income, it works out as fully equivalent to sixty or seventy guineas from a millionaire?” In addition, in both the film and the play, Eliza and Colonel Pickering share a bond that happens because of her vulnerability to Higgins mistreats and Pickering’s compassion for her. For the duration of her stay at Higgins home, Eliza often goes after comfort in the sympathetic Colonel because without this ‘friend’, she knows that she will not survive Higgins’ rudeness. Moreover, the characters feelings and emotions are equally able to be transmitted to the reader and viewer even though they are in different ways. In Shaw’s version, readers can interpret Eliza’s fear through the dialogue. Similarly, in the film, viewers have the ability to watch Eliza’s facial expressions and body movement to understand her emotions.

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Another similarity in the play and the film is the portrayal of social status. To begin with, the play and the film introduce the importance of social status in the opening scenes. When Henry Higgins analyzes Eliza Doolittle in the film, he speaks in an arrogant tone to make it clear that he is superior. On the other hand, in the play, Higgins speaks unsympathetic, uses degrading words and says that Eliza is not even capable of being a human being.

Even though the two productions can be very similar they have evident signs of contrast. One of them is ...

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