Is Pygmalion a romance?
Pygmalion, written by Bernard Shaw has created much controversy inwhether it is a romance or not. In my opinion, it is not a romantic play as the main characters-Eliza Doolittle and Professor Henry Higgins- do not declare their love for each other. I believe this declaration is one of the essential points that make a romantic novel.
What actually defines a romantic story? Is it the stereotypical ending of‘happily ever after’ or is it of two basic elements; the central love story and an emotionally gratifying ending? Like any other story, a romance story is written to escape the real, hectic life. Bernard Shaw has not created a separate world; he has kept the reality of twentieth century London. Even though there are many hints of romance in the play, Shaw does not let the audience think for itself and create an ending that is acceptable for them to understand.
Bernard Shaw’s opinion is much like my own. He did not want the play to be a romance and he made sure of that by adding prose at the end of the play.Shaw did not intend for the play to be romantic, because he wanted todemonstrate the independency and rationality of women and he aimed toshow that the audience’s mind is too idle to assume another ending other than a romantic one. In my opinion, Shaw wanted the play to be about two different people who consider their friendship differently. Eliza states, “I want a little kindness.” This quotation means that she does not want Higgins to be infatuated with her like her obsessive admirer- Freddy Hill- but to be more civil and gentle with the way he behaves towards her.
A romance story must have a romantic hero and heroine who fall in love. Inmy point of view, in this story, neither hero nor heroine does. A romance story also must have an emotionally satisfying ending. Pygmalion for countless of people, do not find the ending satisfying. They feel that Higgins and Eliza should have married, or Shaw should have let the ending be ambiguous, by not deciding who Eliza marries at the end of the play.
During the closing stages of the play, whilst Mrs. Higgins went to change herclothes for Eliza‘s father’s wedding, Professor Higgins is left alone with Elizaand says, ‘I can’t turn your soul on”. Some people may interpret this as adeclaration of love for Eliza, but in my opinion, this is just referring to the point that she is a human being who has a soul and that cannot be replaced by amachine.
Higgins thinks that women are too much trouble to care for. For exampleHiggins says “the woman wants to live her own life; and the man wants to live his”. Higgins finds that women and men want two different things from life and this leads him to think that sharing his life with a woman, will only lead him to do something that he doesn’t want to and because of that, he does not want to marry and would like remain a bachelor for the rest of his life.
Higgins’s character is not a romantic one. He treats everyone with equality. “I treat a duchess as she was a flower girl.” This shows that he treats everybody the same and does not favour anyone because of their status in society. He also confirms himself as a bachelor. Higgins informs the audience and Eliza, that marrying Eliza would be impossible. Higgins asks Eliza if she would like to marry Colonel Pickering but he answers the question himself by saying “He’s as confirmed a bachelor as I am.” He indirectly implies that he would remain an unmarried man for the rest of his life, as well as saying that Colonel Pickering will stay a bachelor.
In my opinion, Higgins does not love Eliza because he does not need to loveher. Higgins has all the female companionship he needs from his mother andhis maid, Mrs Pearce. It is thought by some people, that Higgins did not marry Eliza because it may cause conflict between his mother and Eliza. Both Eliza and Mrs Higgins have very dominant opinions and are the only people who can oppose Higgins’ ideas. For example when Eliza said “Don’t you try getting round me”. She is able defy his ideas and she can resist what hold he has, on her.
this is an essay on the English play Pygmalion.