INTRODUCTION (the myth)
Pygmalion was a talented Greek sculptor from Cyprus who saw women as flawed creatures and vowed never to waste any moment of his life with them. He dedicated himself to his work and soon created Galatea, a beautiful stature of a woman which became the masterpiece of his life.
Pygmalion worked so long and with such inspiration on the statue of Galatea, that it became more beautiful than any woman that had ever lived or been carved in stone. As he finished the statue’s features, they became extremely lovely that he fell deeply in love.
He would bring it gifts such as pretty seashells, songbirds and flowers, caress it, kiss it and talk to it every day. He dressed the statue in fine clothing, and put rings on her fingers, necklaces around her neck and even earrings.
What irony that he who had scorned women should fall in love with a woman who could never love him in return!
This ancient myth had a brilliant interpretation in George Bernard Shaw’s play titled “Pygmalion”, the writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925 and became one of the most famous in English literature.
Characters in the play;
Henry Higgins - a woman-hating mama's boy, an incredibly talented misanthrope.
Eliza Doolittle - a poor girl from the streets, she's smart, independent.
Colonel Pickering – an all-around nice guy.
Mrs. Pearce – is a housekeeper.
Mrs. Eynsford Hill - is a wealthy lady who has everything that Eliza doesn’t.
Freddy – a romantic boy.
Mrs. Higgins – an intelligent woman
(Eliza, Higgins, Pickering, Mrs. Eynsford Hill and Freddy are on the square)
Author; Have you ever been to London? It’s a quite big difference between those who live in West End and those who live East End. Don’t ask me why. It’s even bigger that you can imagine. Wealthy and intelligence against poverty and ignorance… Wait a minute and you’ll see what it means.
London. Covent Garden.
(Introduces the characters)
Mrs. Eynsford Hill (makes a curtsy) – a wealthy lady who grows in West End
Freddy (bows) – her frivolous son
Sir Henry Higgins (touches his hat) – a well-known professor of English phonetics
Colonel Pickering (bends his head) – an intelligent gentleman and a military man
Eliza (sits awkwardly) - an ignorant person from East End. By the way, she is the main character of this amazing story.
(The action starts)
(Mrs. Eynsford Hill with un umbrella. She is waiting for her son Freddy)
Mrs. Eynsford Hill: Freddy, boy, where are you? (to herself) Other people got cabs. Why couldn't he?
Mrs. Eynsford Hill: Well, haven't you got a cab?
Freddy: There's not one to be had for love or money.
Mrs. Eynsford Hill: You really are very helpless, Freddy. Go again; and don't come back until you have found a cab.
(He opens his umbrella and suddenly knocks Eliza’s basket out of her hands) Freddy: Sorry.
Eliza: (picking up her scattered flowers and replacing them in the basket) There's menners f' yer! Te-oo banches o voylets trod into the mad.
(She sits down on Mrs. Eynsford Hill’s right. Compared to the lady she is very dirty) Mrs. Eynsford Hill: (gives her a penny) This is for your flowers.
Eliza: Thank you kindly, lady.
Eliza: (to Pickering) Garn! Oh do buy a flower off me, Captain.
Pickering: Sorry. I haven't any change--Stop: here's three halfpence, if that's any use to you.
Eliza: (disappointed, but thinking three halfpence better than nothing) Thank you, sir.
Mrs. Eynsford Hill: (to Eliza): You be careful: give him a flower for it. There's a bloke here behind taking down every blessed word you're saying.
(All turn to the man (Higgins) who is taking notes)
Eliza: I ain't done nothing wrong by speaking to the gentleman. I've a right to sell flowers. I'm a respectable girl.
Higgins: (comes) Do I look like a policeman?
Eliza: Then what did you take down my words for? I'm a good girl, I am.
Higgins: Live where you like; but stop that noise. (To others) You see this creature with her English that will keep her in the gutter to the end of her days. Well, sir, in three months I could pass that girl off as a duchess at an ambassador's garden party. That's the sort of thing I do for commercial millionaires.
Pickering: I am myself a student of Indian dialects; and--
Higgins: Are you? Do you know Colonel Pickering, the author of Spoken Sanscrit?
Pickering: I am Colonel Pickering. Who are you?
Higgins: Henry Higgins, author of Higgins's Universal Alphabet.
Pickering: I came from India to meet you.
Higgins: 27A Wimpole Street. Come and see me tomorrow.
Eliza: (to Pickering, as he passes her) Buy a flower, kind gentleman.
Pickering: I really haven't any change. I'm sorry (he goes away).
(Higgins raises his hat, then throws a handful of money into the basket and follows Pickering)
Author: Next day Pickering visits Higgins and they’re sitting in his laboratory in Wimpole Street.
HIGGINS (standing in front of Pickering) Tired of listening to sounds?
PICKERING. I can't hear a bit of difference between most of the vowels as you do.
HIGGINS (chuckling, he eats sweets) They're all as different as A from B. That comes with practice.
(Mrs. Pearce looks in)
MRS. PEARCE: A young woman wants to see you, sir.
HIGGINS: A young woman! What does she want?
MRS. PEARCE. Well, sir, she says you'll be glad to see her when you know what she's come about. I thought perhaps you wanted her to talk into your machines.
HIGGINS. Oh, that's all right, Mrs. Pearce. Has she an interesting accent?
MRS. PEARCE. Oh, something dreadful, sir, really.
HIGGINS [to Pickering] Let's have her up. Show her up, Mrs. Pearce
HIGGINS. (indifferently) She's no use: I've got all her records.
Eliza. You ain't heard what I come for yet. [To Mrs. Pearce, who is waiting at the door for further instruction] Did you tell him I come in a taxi?
MRS. PEARCE. Nonsense, girl! what do you think a gentleman like Mr. Higgins cares what you came in?
HIGGINS. What do you expect me to say to you?
Eliza. Well, if you was a gentleman, you might ask me to sit down, I think.
HIGGINS. Pickering: shall we ask this baggage to sit down or shall we throw her out of the window?
PICKERING [gently] What is it you want, my girl?
Eliza. I want to be a lady in a flower shop stead of selling. He said he could teach me --and he treats me as if I was dirt.
HIGGINS. What's your name?
Eliza. Liza Doolittle.
HIGGINS. Eliza, Elizabeth, Betsy and Bess… How much do you propose to pay me for the lessons? You earn about half-a-crown.
Eliza. But I ain't got sixty pounds. Oh--
MRS. PEARCE. Don't cry, you silly girl. Sit down. Nobody is going to touch your money.
HIGGINS. Somebody is going to touch you, with a broomstick, if you don't stop snivelling. Sit down.
(Mrs. Pearce gives her a handkerchief)
PICKERING. Higgins, I'm interested. What about the ambassador's garden party? I'll say you're the greatest teacher alive if you make that good. I'll bet you all the expenses of the experiment you can't do it. And I'll pay for the lessons.
Eliza. Oh, you are real good. Thank you, Captain.
HIGGINS [becoming excited as the idea grows on him] Never lose a chance: it doesn't come every day. I shall make a duchess of this… girl.
(Eliza is full of excitement and doesn’t notice when Mrs. Pearse takes her away)
Author: For Higgins it’s seems like a challenge. He doesn’t know properly what to do but at the end of six months Eliza shall go to Buckingham Palace in a carriage, beautifully dressed. If the King finds out she’s not a lady, she will be taken by the police to the Tower of London, where her head will be cut off.
(Action goes without words: Mrs. Pears shows Eliza how to use combs, on the other side Pickering tries to explain her how to use fork and spoon. Higgins makes gestures of helplessness putting away linguistic book)
(Eliza and Higgins)
HIGGINS. Look at the cards and repeat after me! “William always wears a very warm woolen vest in winter”
(Eliza repeats but wrong. Higgins becomes angry)
HIGGINS. No! Once again! Put the nuts into your mouth and repeat once again! “Of all the saw I ever saw, I never saw a saw and that saw saws” ELIZA. (in desperate) Of all the men ever saw, I never a man like you!
HIGGINS. Silly girl!
Author: And day by day the same.
Author: Six months passed very quickly. Every week, every day there was some new change. They were talking to Eliza, teaching Eliza, dressing Eliza. And now Higgins wants to show the results of his work to his mother.
(Higgins gives Eliza a new dress) HIGGINS. Mrs. Pearce, will you help me?
MRS. PEARCE. Of course, sir.
(Eliza comes in a new dress)
ELIZA. I think I look silly in it.
MRS. PEARCE. You look like a lady.
(Eliza is happy and hugs her)
(It is Mrs. Higgins's at-home day. Nobody has yet arrived. The door is opened violently; and Higgins enters with his hat on)
MRS. HIGGINS. Henry [scolding him]! What are you doing here today? It is my at home day: you promised not to come.
HIGGINS. I know, mother. I came on purpose. I've picked up a girl.
MRS. HIGGINS. Does that mean that some girl has picked you up?
HIGGINS. Not at all. I don't mean a love affair. My idea of a loveable woman is something as like you as possible.
MRS. HIGGINS. Stop fidgeting and take your hands out of your pockets. That's a good boy. Now tell me about the girl.
HIGGINS. She's coming to see you.
MRS. HIGGINS. I don't remember asking her.
HIGGINS. You didn't. I asked her. She's a common flower girl.
MRS. HIGGINS. And invited her to my at-home!
HIGGINS. Oh, that'll be all right. I've taught her to speak properly; and she has strict orders as to her behavior. She's to keep to two subjects: the weather and everybody's health.
(Mrs. Eynsford Hill comes and then her son) MRS. HIGGINS [introducing] My son Henry.
MRS. EYNSFORD HILL. Your celebrated son! I have so longed to meet you, Professor Higgins.
FREDDY [shaking hands with Higgins] How do you do?
(They drink tea. Eliza comes with Pickering)
HIGGINS [rising and running to Mrs. Higgins] Here she is, mother. [He stands on tiptoe and makes signs over his mother's head to Eliza to indicate to her which lady is her hostess].
Author: Here she is – a poor flower girl who looks like a pretty young lady.
ELIZA [speaking with pedantic correctness of pronunciation and great beauty of tone] How do you do, Mrs. Higgins? Mr. Higgins told me I might come.
MRS. HIGGINS. Quite right: I'm very glad indeed to see you. Will it rain, do you think?
ELIZA. The shallow depression in the west of these islands is likely to move slowly in an easterly direction. There are no indications of any great change in the barometrical situation.
FREDDY. Ha! ha! how awfully funny!
ELIZA. What is wrong with that, young man? I bet I got it right.
MRS. EYNSFORD HILL. I'm sure I hope it won't turn cold. There's so much influenza about.
ELIZA [darkly] My aunt died of influenza: so they said. Gin was mother's milk to her.
MRS. EYNSFORD HILL. Do you mean that she drank?
ELIZA. Drank! My word! Something chronic.
MRS. EYNSFORD HILL. How dreadful for you!
FREDDY. The new small talk. You do it so awfully well.
ELIZA. Well: I must go. [They all rise. Freddy goes to the door]. Good-bye, all.
PICKERING. Good-bye, Miss Doolittle.
(Mrs. Eynsford Hill and Freggy go)
MRS. HIGGINS. That girl…
HIGGINS. just like a parrot…
PICKERING. is a genius. She can play the piano quite beautifully. We have taken her to classical concerts and to music
MRS. HIGGINS. Sh--sh--sh--sh! [They stop]. You two infinitely stupid male creatures: the problem of what is to be done with her afterwards.
HIGGINS. I don't see anything in that. She can go her own way, with all the advantages I have given her.
MRS. HIGGINS. The advantages of that poor woman who was here just now!
PICKERING [being rather bored] Oh, that will be all right, Mrs. Higgins. [He rises to go]. She's happy enough. Don't you worry about her. ACT 4
Author: Eliza’s destiny is indefinite. The experiment is over.
(Higgin’s laboratory, Eliza opens the door. Higgins, in evening dress, with overcoat and hat, comes in. He takes off the hat and overcoat; throws them carelessly. Pickering comes in. He also takes off his hat and overcoat, and is about to throw them on Higgins's when he hesitates)
HIGGINS. [Suddenly he stops and exclaims] I wonder where the devil my slippers are!
(Eliza looks at him darkly; then leaves the room)
(Eliza returns with a pair of slippers. She places them on the carpet before Higgins, and sits as before without a word)
HIGGINS. Oh Lord! What an evening! What a crew! Thank God it's over!
PICKERING. Were you nervous at the garden party? I was. Eliza didn't seem a bit nervous.
HIGGINS. Oh, she wasn't nervous. I knew she'd be all right.
PICKERING. My heart began beating like anything. A triumph for you. Good-night. [He goes].
HIGGINS [following him] Good-night. [Over his shoulder, at the door] Put out the lights, Eliza; and tell Mrs. Pearce not to make coffee for me in the morning: I'll take tea. [He goes out].
(Eliza tries to control herself and feel indifferent as she rises and walks across. By the time she gets there she is on the point of screaming. She sits down in Higgins's chair) HIGGINS. What the devil have I done with my slippers? [He appears at the door].
ELIZA. There are your slippers. And there. Take your slippers; and may you never have a day's luck with them!
HIGGINS. What on earth--! [He comes to her]. What's the matter? Get up. [He pulls her up]. Anything wrong?
ELIZA . Nothing wrong--with YOU. I've won your bet for you, haven't I? That's enough for you.
HIGGINS. YOU won my bet! You! What did you throw those slippers at me for?
ELIZA. Because I wanted to smash your face. I'd like to kill you, you selfish brute. Why didn't you leave me where you picked me out of--in the gutter? You thank God it's all over, and that now you can throw me back again there, do you?
HIGGINS. Ah! would you? How dare you show your temper to me? Sit down and be quiet.
ELIZA. What's to become of me? What's to become of me?
HIGGINS. How the devil do I know what's to become of you?
ELIZA. You don't care. I know you don't care. You wouldn't care if I was dead. I'm nothing to you--not so much as them slippers.
HIGGINS [thundering] THOSE slippers.
ELIZA [with bitter submission] Those slippers. I didn't think it made any difference now.
HIGGINS. Has anybody behaved badly to you? Colonel Pickering? Mrs. Pearce? Any of the servants?
HIGGINS. I am glad to hear it. [He moderates his tone]. Perhaps you're tired after the strain of the day. Will you have a glass of champagne?
ELIZA. No. [Recollecting her manners] Thank you.
HIGGINS [good-humored again] This has been coming on you for some days. I suppose it was natural for you to be anxious about the garden party. But that's all over now. There's nothing more to worry about.
ELIZA. No. Nothing more for you to worry about. [She suddenly rises and gets away from him]. Oh God! I wish I was dead.
HIGGINS [staring after her in sincere surprise] Why? in heaven's name, why? Listen to me, Eliza. All this irritation is subjective. ELIZA. I don't understand. I'm too ignorant.
HIGGINS. It's only imagination. Nothing's wrong. You go to bed like a good girl and sleep it off. Have a little cry and say your prayers: that will make you comfortable.
ELIZA. I heard YOUR prayers. "Thank God it's all over!" HIGGINS [waking up] What do you mean?
ELIZA. I sold flowers. I didn't sell myself. Now you've made a lady of me I'm not fit to sell anything else. I wish you'd left me where you found me.
HIGGINS [with dignity, in his finest professional style] You have caused me to lose my temper: a thing that has hardly ever happened to me before. I prefer to say nothing more tonight. I am going to bed.
ELIZA. You'd better leave a note for Mrs. Pearce about the coffee; for she won't be told by me.
HIGGINS [formally] Damn Mrs. Pearce; and damn the coffee; and damn you.
ELIZA (sadly) Say “Thank you” to colonel Pickering. He calling me Miss Doolittle that day when I first came to Wimpole Street. That was the beginning of self-respect for me. And there were a hundred little things you never noticed, because they came naturally to you. Things about standing up and taking off your hat and opening doors.
HIGGINS. I can't change my nature; and I don't intend to change my manners. My manners are exactly the same as Colonel Pickering's.
ELIZA. That's not true. He treats a flower girl as if she was a duchess.
HIGGINS. And I treat a duchess as if she was a flower girl.
ELIZA. I shall not see you again, Professor. Good bye.
(He stops her in the last minute before she goes)
Author: Eliza says goodbye, but Higgins is sure she'll be back. Galatea is not for her Pygmalion. But this legend will live forever.