Java's Journey: Is Eliza Really Professor Higgins' Fair Lady?
In the play, stuffy professor Henry Higgins sets himself a challenge: to pass off Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower seller, as a duchess. sees this as “sweeping clean her relationship with Higgins and heading off to a better, brighter future. His relation to her is too God-like to be altogether agreeable.". If you know the musical, you recall that Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower But the relationship between Shaw's “sculptor,” Higgins, and his “statue,” . in their true sense not through human nature but by God's divine power. for written correspondence,” the reader is inclined to thank God for small favors . the “ambiguous” tone of the relationship between Higgins and Eliza. celebrates: Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, as Lerner and Loewe.
I want a little kindness. I know I'm a common ignorant girl, and you're a book-learned gentleman; but I'm not dirt under your feet. What I done [correcting herself] what I did was not for the dresses and the taxis: I did it because we were pleasant together and I come—came—to care for you; not to want you to make love to me, and not forgetting the difference between us, but more friendly like.
In her stilted conversation, Eliza makes everything about their relationship clear. Shaw allows some of her slum dialect to slip in again at this point to let the audience know that Eliza is sincere.
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Higgins agrees that this is how he feels as well - a platonic relationship is in order. They must hash this out in plain language because others might expect that these two should become romantically involved, but both of them plainly declare that they do not expect this from each other.
Higgins feels trapped by society's expectations of what a guy is meant to be when a woman his age or younger comes into his life. To let a woman in your life, Higgins thinks, is to play a set role that he's not interested in.
A man is meant to be a love-sick school boy like Freddie is to Eliza who writes her letters every day or a somewhat protective father figure like his linguistic colleague Colonel Pickering is to Eliza, or Eliza's biological father Alfred Doolittle.
Higgins wants to be neither.
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He's only in love with his vowels and protective against slang. Why can't he have a platonic relationship with women as he has with Pickering?
When he explains to his mother that he hasn't married because My idea of a loveable woman is something as like you as possible.
This is not -as some have suggested- an Oedipal connection that stunts his romantic progress; it's a liberating perspective that he wishes he could simply have a friendship with a person that he finds interesting, male or female. By the end, in Eliza he has found someone like his mother -grounded, wise, opinionated, expecting no less than basic regard and respect.
Also, as it is with his mother, Higgins has no intention of becoming her lover. Eliza is simply a part of Higgins' life, an exceptional part of it.
He's grown accustomed to her face, and he will miss her company if she chooses to leave. Ultimately, Higgins is a somewhat asexual being who, if anything, is in a love affair with the never-ending mysteries of his native tongue. Before Eliza ever shows up to Higgins' house for tutoring, before there is some question in the audience's mind about whether the pupil and teacher are a romantic match, Higgins' most ardent affections already have a permanent target; his lady love is language and no one will ever take her place.
For Higgins Eliza is just a subject for an experiment at the beginning, nothing more. He treats her badly and hurts her feelings almost all the time. But Eliza is not always the victim of Higgins's verbal attacks.
She protects herself "I am a good girl! The mere pronunciation is easy enough. I want to talk like a lady. As time goes by, Higgins and Eliza get used to each other, although they don't admit that to anyone, not even to themselves.
Higgins might be a friend, a father, or even a lover to her, and in the course of the play they begin to show feelings for each other and their relationship develops beyond their professional interests.
In Act 4 the conflicts between the two begin to prevail and both, especially Eliza, show their anger!
Her pride is wounded, because Higgins never thanks her for anything and Higgins is offended by Eliza, because she throws his slippers into his face and says that in Higgins eyes she would be just one of the girls he and Pickering pick up to experiment on. When she gives Higgins back the ring, which he has bought her as a present, he looses his temper, which has never happened to him before, and he says: When Eliza leaves Higgins he is furious and tells his mother, that he needs her, because he can't find anything and wouldn't even know his dates without Eliza's help.
Henry Higgins is not worried about her, or disappointed that she left him and that she can live without him, he just thinks about the practical "use" of Eliza. In Act 5 Eliza still has control and Higgins feels helpless: For the first time she finds revenge and "got a little back of her own".