My Fair Lady Essay, Research Paper
In the opening scene of the play/musical we meet all of the main characters, Professor Henry Higgins, Eliza Doolittle, and Colonel Pickering. It is also here that they are each introduced to one another.
After an evening at the opera, the members of high society begin spilling out onto streets of London, mingling with the commoners. Professor Higgins hear, Eliza, the flower girl, speaking and begins to take notes. Eliza finds this behavior suspicious and thinks that she is in some sort of trouble. She protests that she was doing nothing wrong and the Professor keeps taking notes. He finally explains himself and his interest in linguistics by singing “Why Can’t the English Learn to Speak.”
This song attracts Colonel Pickering who, as it turns out, has come from India to meet Professor Higgins, a leader in the field of linguistics. The Professor and the Colonel begin talking about their shared interest in speech and unknowingly plant the seed that will grow into Eliza’s desire (”Wouldn’t It Be Lovely?”) to be a lady.
Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering are discussing various methods and theories regarding linguistics when Eliza makes an entrance at Higgins’ house. She has decided that she needs to become a lady and is interested in hiring Higgins’ in this pursuit. At first, Higgins thinks the idea is ridiculous, urging Eliza to leave, but then the Colonel convinces him that it would be an interesting challenge for the both of them. After sending Eliza upstairs to become more presentable, Higgins
expresses his true feelings about women in, “Let a Woman in Your Life.” Eliza’s father then makes his presence known thinking he can earn a few quick bucks (”With a Little Bit of Luck”).
After long, excruciating lessons in elocution, Eliza has a breakthrough, finally being able to pronounce and sing,”The Rain inSpain” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.”
The setting is the “Ascot Opening Races,” an event that commoners do not frequent. Eliza charms Higgins’ mother and her friends, until she speaks of more than the weather.
We learn at this point that it takes more than vocabulary and diction to be a lady. As Eliza becomes more comfortable in her surroundings, she reveals much more about her family than she
The inconsistencies in Eliza’s first dress rehearsal finally come to a climax when she shouts, “Move your blooming arse!” to a horse during the race. In spite of her many blunders throughout the day, however, she manages to win the heart of the young Fredd Eynsford-Hill. Love is in the air outside of Higgins’ house… Freddie admits his undying devotion to Eliza, by singing “On the Street Where You Live.” outside her doorstep. Freddie, however, is turned away by the maid. Eliza, it seems, is terribly embarrassed by her own performance at the racetract. and refuses to succumb to Freddie’s affections. Eventually, the old adage, “actions speak louder than words,” comes into play with Eliza singing to Freddie, “Words, Words,…Show Me.” Meanwhile, Eliza’s opportunistic father has been forced to join the middle class and make an honest woman out of the woman that has been acting as his wife for years, and urges his bar buddies to “Get Me to the Church On Time.”
The culmination of Higgins’ and the Colonel’s challenge is presenting Eliza at the ball for the Queen of Transylvania. Not only is the Queen transfixed by Eliza’s charm, the Prince requests a dance.
Tension is built in the scene by a Hungarian linguistics professional who claims he can spot a phony a mile away. At first, Higgins and Colonel Pickering try to keep
the distance between Eliza and the Hungarian, but eventually realize there is no need. Eliza is now a lady.
Floating on a cloud, Eliza returns to Higgins’ house, only to be ignored by Higgins and the Colonel as they pat each other on the back, “You Did It, You Did It.” Eliza threatens and then decides to leave as Higgins is confused by her anger (”Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?”).
Outraged and frustrated by Higgins, Eliza leaves the Professor’s house on Wimpole Street. She tries to return to Covent Garden but no-one recognizes her and, with no place else to go, she flees to the security of Higgins’ mother’s house. Mrs. Higgins agrees with Eliza that her son is inconsiderate, and then leaves Eliza to confront him when Higgins makes his entrance.
Eliza conveys her newly found strength to Higgins in “I Can Do Without you" and then tells him to leave – she doesn’t need him. Realizing that this breakthrough means the success of making a “lady,” Higgins howls with joy, and once again congratulates himself. At Eliza’s insistence, Higgins finally leaves. However, on the way home, he realizes how much he will miss Eliza, “I’ve Grown
Accustomed to Her Face.”
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