Sunday, March 21, 2021

"What a Fool I Was"

 If you're looking for the magical happy ending from My Fair Lady, you won't find it in my novel. Nor will you find it in Shaw's original play, Pygmalion. Instead you will find this:

"This is where the play gets interesting. Once Higgins wins his bet and completes Eliza’s transformation, she is stuck between two worlds. She can’t to go back to selling flowers and she doesn’t want to be Higgins’ secretary — or worse, his wife. At the end of the play, after an enormous battle of wills, Eliza decides to strike out on her own. “If I can’t have kindness, I’ll have independence,” she declares.

Then, according to Shaw’s final stage directions, Eliza "sweeps out."

This is from an excellent article from The Worldwhich I link to here, because it explains far better than I can. But think of Pygmalion as Shaw's version of Ibsen's A Doll's House. At the end of that play, Nora slams out the door: the slam heard round the world. Now imagine that Nora had come back in the door and given Torvald a big romantic kiss. You'd have never heard of A Doll's House.

But in Shaw's case, everyone conspired against him. The actors, the director of the movie version, and certainly the producers of My Fair Lady, to soften the blow. Think of Eliza's last words in the film before the ending:

"Goodbye, Professor Higgins. You shall not be seeing me again."

Now that is Shaw's sentiment. But Lerner and Loewe had a killer song up there sleeve and a shlocky, if winning, romantic ending to tag on, which directly denies Shaw.

Now, in the ending of my don't really think I'm going to tell you the ending, do you? To paraphrase Eliza, 

"What a fool, I'be, what an addle-pated fool."

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