The Controversial Ending of Pygmalion

2378 words 10 pages
The Controversial Ending of Shaw’s Pygmalion George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion is a play that has become a classic in today’s world. It is a retelling of an ancient story, of the same name, by the Roman poet, Ovid, in which a sculptor falls in love with a statue he carved. In Shaw’s story, Henry Higgins, an expert in phonetics, happens upon a poor flower girl with awful English and street manners named Eliza Doolittle. Throughout the course of the play Higgins transforms her into an elegant independent woman. The play tracks Eliza and Higgins’s journey and the transformation of their relationship from teacher and pupil to one where both are equally accustomed to the other and have become integral parts of the others lives. Shaw does …show more content…

After he died though, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe created My Fair Lady, a musical closely based on Pygmalion. My Fair Lady was and is an enormous hit with theatre-goers and was even made into an Academy Award winning movie starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. Shaw’s prediction that the musical’s ending would be adapted romantically despite his wishes turned out to be true. In the past two decades there have been several attempts to use Shaw’s original ending in productions of My Fair Lady, or at least to get closer to Shaw’s intent. This is not allowed by the owners of the royalties though, and the few productions that have tried to do this have been informed that they are to immediately reinstate the (now) accepted ending (Champion 35). The fact that not even one small regional production can be staged with the playwright’s ending seems absolutely ridiculous. It seems to be a cowardly act by the current owners of the story to keep up their fairy-tale, money-making ending. It also shows a great deal of defiant arrogance to completely disregard the playwright’s true intentions, and to take it to the point of demanding that those intentions not be fulfilled. The ending of Pygmalion has been studied and researched since its first publishing. Since Shaw’s death