Assistant Professor Doctor Esra Almas
Theories of Drama and Adaptation
26th November 2013
Pygmalion, by Irish author George Bernard Show, has been adapted into numerous stage musicals and films. The play itself can be considered as an adaptation as well because it was inspired by the Greek mythological figure Pygmalion who created a marble statue of a woman called Galatea. Similarly, Professor Henry Higgins transformed a poor cockney girl, Eliza Doolittle, into an elegant lady in the screen and stage adaptations called My Fair Lady.
In my paper, I will focus on how the themes such as feminism, social class distinction were revealed in the stage and film versions of My Fair Lady. As a playwright and socialist, Shaw used his plays to reflect the moral values and ...view middle of the document...
In the play and movie, the phonetic professor Higgins presents that the way people speak and wear is of great importance to abolish class distinction. Therefore, contrary settings and costumes of the period are illustrated on purpose to emphasize the hierarchy within the classes. Higgins believes that if he teaches Eliza how to speak in a sophisticated way, she will climb the ladder from low class to middle class and eventually work as a lady in a florist shop. From a different perspective, it is also criticized whether it is an advantage for a low class person to be taught high class speech and values even though she will never be a part of it due to the financial reasons. From the feminist view, Eliza is depicted as an emancipator who contradicts with the gender roles that are imposed on women as she proves to earn her own money and to be clever enough to make improvements. Furthermore, the play fulfills the expectations of the feminist critics when Eliza leaves Higgins with her free will. She presents the determination of an independent woman who doesnâ€™t depend upon her creator. In the screen musical, Elizaâ€™s return to Higginsâ€™ house might be misinterpreted; however, the same massage is provided through the implications of physical detachment of the main characters and ironical usage of melody.
Even though there are many differences regarding, the setting, genre, music and song the two adaptations share an almost identical storyline.
1. My Fair Lady. IMDb. n.p., n.d. Web. 26.11.2013. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058385/>.
2. Shaw, George Bernard. Pygmalion and Major Barbara. New York: Bantam Books, 1992.
3. McGovern, Derek John.â€œEliza Undermined:The Romanticisation of Shawâ€™s Pygmalionâ€.Phd Thesis.U of Massey,2011.
4. SparkNotes Editors. â€œSparkNote on Pygmalion.â€ SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. n.d.. Web. 26 Nov. 2013.