Top critical review
My fav is Devil's Disciple so far - but this is very entertaining.
on 14 July 2013
My favourite character has got to be Alfred Doolittle (Eliza's father), a member of the undeserving poor, who isn't qualified to seek charitable benefits and subsequently justifies his "hustler" means of gaining money as a means of surviving an unfair society.
He's content (to an extent) with his lot in life - as it means he isn't inflicted with the chains that bind the Middle-class (possessions and people are burdensome you see). Hence middle class morality doesn't extend to his lifestyle (when we first meet him that is).
A few quotes of Mr Doolittle:
DOOLITTLE [to Pickering] I thank you, Governor. [To Higgins, who takes refuge on the piano bench, a little overwhelmed by the proximity of his visitor; for Doolittle has a professional flavor of dust about him]. Well, the truth is, I've taken a sort of fancy to you, Governor; and if you want the girl, I'm not so set on having her back home again but what I might be open to an arrangement. Regarded in the light of a young woman, she's a fine handsome girl. As a daughter she's not worth her keep; and so I tell you straight. All I ask is my rights as a father; and you're the last man alive to expect me to let her go for nothing; for I can see you're one of the straight sort, Governor. Well, what's a five pound note to you? And what's Eliza to me? [He returns to his chair and sits down judicially].
DOOLITTLE. Don't say that, Governor. Don't look at it that way. What am I, Governors both? I ask you, what am I? I'm one of the undeserving poor: that's what I am. Think of what that means to a man. It means that he's up agen middle class morality all the time. If there's anything going, and I put in for a bit of it, it's always the same story: "You're undeserving; so you can't have it." But my needs is as great as the most deserving widow's that ever got money out of six different charities in one week for the death of the same husband. I don't need less than a deserving man: I need more. I don't eat less hearty than him; and I drink a lot more. I want a bit of amusement, cause I'm a thinking man. I want cheerfulness and a song and a band when I feel low. Well, they charge me just the same for everything as they charge the deserving. What is middle class morality? Just an excuse for never giving me anything. Therefore, I ask you, as two gentlemen, not to play that game on me. I'm playing straight with you. I ain't pretending to be deserving. I'm undeserving; and I mean to go on being undeserving. I like it; and that's the truth. Will you take advantage of a man's nature to do him out of the price of his own daughter what he's brought up and fed and clothed by the sweat of his brow until she's growed big enough to be interesting to you two gentlemen? Is five pounds unreasonable? I put it to you; and I leave it to you.
The play is different to the musical. It's more of a satire while the play (from the little that I remember) is more of a hollywood Tinseltown fairtyale love story. I was never into My Fair Lady and hence only watched it once when I was 7 and found it tedious.
The play however is incredibly interesting. It's witty, observant and satirical. It sends homilies without preaching, it possesses philosophy sans lectures and it delights without compromise.
The musical, I believe, ends with Eliza and Prof Higgins becoming an item. The play ends differently. Although both acknowledge to some degree a certain attraction (not the conventional kind) but a subtle desire of fellow companionship.
The musical deviates from that which, according to wikipedia, Shaw was not pleased about:
"Shaw remained sufficiently irritated to add a postscript essay, "'What Happened Afterwards," to the 1916 print edition for inclusion with subsequent editions, in which he explained precisely why it was impossible for the story to end with Higgins and Eliza getting married."
After reading the play - I can appreciate why Shaw resisted a conventional HEA. As a satire of social and economic observation - the lack of a conventional love story works - it keeps it bittersweet. Reading the transcript only reiterated my own conclusion. However, it makes sense why the Musical theater owners wanted the love and HEA ending. Its the same reason why Wicked (The Musical) is so very diff to the book.
The plot: Professor of phonetics Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can train a bedraggled Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess at an ambassador's garden party by teaching her to assume a veneer of gentility, the most important element of which, he believes, is impeccable speech. The play is a sharp lampoon of the rigid British class system of the day and a commentary on women's independence.
The Title: In ancient Greek mythology, Pygmalion fell in love with one of his sculptures that came to life
"Happy is the man who can make a living by his hobby"
"Oh, Lord knows! I suppose the woman wants to live her own life; and the man wants to live his; and each tries to drag the other on to the wrong track. One wants to go north and the other south; and the result is that both have to go east, though they both hate the east wind. [He sits down on the bench at the keyboard]. So here I am, a confirmed old bachelor, and likely to remain so"
"You have no idea how frightfully interesting it is to take a human being and change her into a quite different human being by creating a new speech for her. It's filling up the deepest gulf that separates class from class and soul from soul."
"Higgins: I find that the moment I let a woman make friends with me, she becomes jealous, exacting, suspicious, and a damned nuisance. I find that the moment I let myself make friends with a woman, I become selfish and tyrannical. Women upset everything. When you let them into your life, you find that the woman is driving at one thing and youre driving at another.
Pickering: At what, for example?
Higgins: Oh, Lord knows! I suppose the woman wants to live her own life; and the man wants to live his; and each tries to drag the other on to the wrong track. One wants to go north and the other south; and the result is that both have to go east, though they both hate the east wind."