Ask Philippa: “Pygmalion” Edition

Listen to Philippa Kelly’s Grove Talk about Pygmalion by clicking here.

Philippa Kelly, Resident Dramaturg for Cal Shakes, invites your questions about Pygmalion, which runs July 30–August 24. Tickets on sale now.

Pygmalion, perhaps George Bernard Shaw’s most renowned play, concerns the playful plight of phonetics Professor Henry Higgins and penniless flower girl Eliza Doolittle, whom he takes under his tutelage. Poor Eliza is reduced to a bet between aristocrats who believe they can pass her off as one of their own. This scheme leaves plenty of room for Shaw’s signature social commentary on the British class system and the relationship between language, class, and power.

Many of us might know the characters of Pygmalion from its musical adaptation, My Fair Lady; however, it is worth noting that artists and directors have struggled against Pygmalion’s lack of predictable romance for a century (since it debuted in 1914). Some writers think this may be why Pygmalionis still “underperformed”:

From the PYGMALION stage at the Bruns: You'll notice this population chart sitting on Higgins' bookshelf.

A hundred years on from that first production, the ending of Pygmalion continues to be a sticking point. It stands as an unspoken matter of contention between audiences, confidently expecting a romantic resolution of the plot, and most directors who wish to remain true to Shaw’s intentions. And it may help to explain the conundrum of why the play, for all its enduring fame and popularity, remains relatively underperformed today.

Are you going to see Cal Shakes’ Pygmalion?  Do you have questions or comments about the production’s cast, themes, creative choices, or anything else? Please leave them in the comments, and I’ll be sure to respond.

Headshot of Philippa Kelly

Dr. Philippa Kelly, Resident Dramaturg for the California Shakespeare Theater, is also a professor and author. Her 2010 book, The King and I, a meditation on Australian culture through the lens of King Lear, garnered international praise in its very personal examination of themes of abandonment, loss, and humor).

You can email Philippa at pkelly@calshakes.org, or post below to ask her a question.

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39 Responses to Ask Philippa: “Pygmalion” Edition

  1. K Barrett says:

    Which ending is Cal-Shakes going to perform? I’ll buy a ticket if it’s Shaw’s original ending.

  2. philippa kelly says:

    You got it!!! Wedding bells are for movies!!!

    • philippa kelly says:

      ps Shaw once said: ‘When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.’

  3. Jay Yamada says:

    I’m confused by the money system in the play.

    I know that there are 240 old English pennies to a pound. A “hay” penny is a half penny.

    But the aristocrats seem to have really big coins that Eliza should have trouble making change for. In the first scene there are shillings, crowns and sovereigns. How many pennies or pounds in each of these coins?

  4. philippa kelly says:

    Hello Jay,
    Welcome to your first-ever post on the ‘Ask Philippa!’ site!. This is an excellent question, as the play kicks off with questions about the whole value of money. Freddy collides with Liza and two bunches of violets are trodden into the mud (although she does put them back into the basket.) A tanner is a sixpence, which is literally 6 pence. Clara doesn’t want to give her mother a sixpence because the violets should only cost 1 penny a bunch – so worth six bunches of violets, not two. ( Just for comparison, a pound of butter would cost a halfpenny in those days).

    Here are the figures:

    2 farthings = 1 halfpenny 

    4 farthings = 1 penny 

    2 halfpennies = 1 penny
    3 pence = 1 thruppence (3d)
    6 pence = 1 sixpence (a ‘tanner’) (6d)
    12 pence = 1 shilling (a bob) (1s)
    2 shillings = a ‘two bob bit’
    2 shillings and 6 pence = 1 half crown (2s 6d)
    5 shillings = 1 Crown (5s)

    £1 = 240 pennies, or 480 halfpennies or 960 farthings, or 8 half crowns, or 20 shillings

    In finding these equivalences for you, I found also that the pre-decimalisation British system of coinage was introduced by King Henry II in the twelfth century. It was based on the troy system of weighing precious metals. The penny was literally one pennyweight of silver. A pound sterling therefore weighed 240 pennyweights, or a pound of sterling silver.

    I also want to tell you something about violets. Until WWI they were enormously popular and sold at most street corners in London (and actually in American cities as well.) They would go on a gentlemens lapel, or top off a box of chocolates, or serve as a nose gay to take to the opera. (The word ‘nose gay’ is ver interesting because the violet has a distinctive scent that numbs the nose – there’s a chemical in the violet fragrance that temporarily knocks out one’s sense of smell, not a bad thing in those times of open sewage and few baths in London. No wonder Eliza doesn’t know how bad she smells!

  5. Jay Yamada says:

    Thanks. Couple more money questions.

    I gather a “brass farthing” then is not worth very much if you’re very rich.

    Is a “sovereign” is equivalent to a one pound coin? Can a gold sovereign be thought of as a pound coin of the day?

    A gold British Sovereign goes for about $300 (American). So, can I think of a penny in the play as being worth a bit more than a dollar?

  6. philippa kelly says:

    Hi Jay, a brass farthing was a quarter of a penny – worth a quarter of a bunch of violets. A Farthing had the value then of slightly more than today’s one pound

    And yes, a soverign was a one pount coin of the day

    A penny would buy a bunch of violets, about a pound of butter

    • Annie says:

      I believe a (gold) sovereign is actually one pound plus one shilling. Not sure where that came from but its a very old denomination. I recall having to do annoying math problems at elementary school that used sovereigns. Tho I don’t think I ever saw one. They are pre WW2 I think.

      • John S says:

        A sovreign is a gold 1-pound coin (paper 1 pound notes would be a ‘quid’; the 1 pound, 1 shilling coin is a guinea. http://www.likesbooks.com/money.html amusingly notes
        “Guinea: A gold coin worth one pound, one shilling. The slang term for guinea was yellowboy. The guinea was used in professional transactions. A gentleman paid his tailor in shillings, but his barrister in guineas. ”

        I looked this up some time ago, and printed it out to leave in my Sherlock Holmes books!

  7. Haskel says:

    At the Thursday night Grove Talk I asked a question about why Shaw handles the end of the play and the epilogue (not intended for performance) as he did. You asked that I put the question here so as not to spoil the ending for those at the talk. I don’t know why you worried. I can’t remember ever reading anything about either Pygmalion or My Fair Lady that didn’t talk about the different endings. The program for this production does it again – twice – in the pieces by Jonathan Moscone and Kaya Oakes. And you do it right on this page. Anyway, I asked why you think Shaw ended the play without quite saying what happens to Eliza – anything seems possible, including returning to Higgins – although that doesn’t seem likely – and then writing a detailed explanation of what really does happen, almost a short story. At least it does make better reading than his usual prefaces. I’ve never been able to read further in a preface than two or three pages of turgid prose before escaping to the play. It’s like going from a small dark dungeon to bright sunlight – even on the page the words and characters explode with life and wit.

    A contemporary audience can”t help but think: “Of course Higgins doesn’t marry Eliza. He’s gay. He’s already married to Pickering.” Do you think Shaw intended this or even thought of it? Even more strange, Higgins seems to be entirely outside of the class structure that dominates all the other characters. He dresses differently and acts in a way calculated to upset everyone else. This is particularly evident in the opening scene where his dress sets him apart and he is even mistaken for a policeman, a completely different class. Could this be Shaw’s view of himself, conscious or not, as a superior being but also as an alien?

    I think some praise is due to My Fair Lady and Lerner and Lowe. I was surprised to find that some of the most memorable moments in the musical, mostly dealing with Eliza’s education and triumphs are not in the play. This includes the “rain in Spain” breakthrough, the Ascot races, and the grand ball. Not surprisingly, they are all associated with music. It is almost, on a lower level, like the relationship of Beaumarchais and Mozart. The original might be more hard headed, and maybe intellectually deeper, but you do miss the music. Mr. Moscone apparently felt something was missing because he added the recording of one of the speech lessons.

    A more specific question: The bookcase on the lower level of Higgins’ study has what looks like a picture or a chart with circles of different sizes and colors. What is this?

    Finally, I have seen all your productions since the most recent King Lear. The three productions so far this year represent the best season yet. Three exemplary productions illustrating three completely different things that theater can be. My congratulations and thanks to all.

    My apologies for being so long-winded. I eagerly await your response.

    • philippa kelly says:

      Hello, and please don’t worry about making a long post – everything you say is very thought-provoking. The reason I don’t like to give away the ending in a grove talk (and I also try not to in my program articles) is that my friend, voice coach Lynne Soffer, promised years ago that she would give me a spanking if I gave away endings before audiences had had the chance to choose whether or not they wanted to know ‘what happens’. I’ve always tried to remember this. (BTW Lynne coached the dialects for thsi show)

      What you say about the Higgins/Pickering relationship is very interesting. Do you think it is inflected by our own contemporary sensibilities? I ask this because as I was watching one of the preview nights, I was wondering the very same thing – and thinking that Shaw might have been very into this idea if he hadn’t fallen off that ladder and were still alive today. He was a passionate advocate for human rights. I think he might have loved your potential interpretation.

      Re your comment about Higgins being outside the class structure – in many ways Shaw himself may be ‘written’ not just into Higgins, but also into Eliza. Shaw came down from London with an Irish accent, whch immediately ‘marked’ him in this caste society; and he had a terrible stammer, which he battled for years, finally getting the better of it as he lectured for the Fabian Society.

      I’ve written Annie Smart (set designer) to ask about your other question re the bookcase. Will post when she gets back to me

    • Annie says:

      The dialog of the speech lesson is not from the musical but was written by Shaw for the 1938 (7?) movie with Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard. The published Pygmalion script that includes the prologue, epilogue and the extended scenes with Freddy, are all from that same movie version, all written by Shaw.

  8. Sallie Olsen says:

    I want to thank Philippa for her answer to quite a tricky question I asked yesterday. It has had me thinking a lot overnight. After the grove talk (Sunday, August 3rd), I asked Philippa about Jonathan’s choice to have L Peter Callender play the role of Pickering in Pygmalion. Certainly in the early 1900 London, Professor Higgins’ friend and colleague would not have been a black man. Philippa answered that this was an excellent and thought-provoking question. To have Pickering be a black man gives the audience an opportunity to think about the fact that the play is being staged today to a very different audience than in 1914 London, and that the company wants to represent this difference in who, and how, it plays on stage . In other words to explore what might be possible for today’s Pygmalion in today’s world. She also talked about the opportunity to open doors that we might not even have recognized before were closed – and when we open these doors, we can begin to see these plays in new dimensions. This was such an illuminating answer. We didn’t have time for more because the bell rang – but I’d love to hear more on the subject. This seems like a question other audience members might be thinking of.

  9. Sallie Olsen says:

    ps Philippa I meant to say in my last post: if Jonathan or anyone else has thoughts to share, I’ll be checking the ask Philippa Site to see!

  10. Annie says:

    I would slightly disagree re Peter’s casting as Pickering. he would have been a small minority but he would have been perfectly acceptable for what we might now consider very unacceptable reasons. The Commonwealth created a different racial dynamic in the UK to that in the US. Remember that Rajahs and foreign Kings and Sheiks etc have been sending their children to the top British public schools since the mid 1800s to learn British language, culture and make social connections. Higgins I believe actually says Pickering is an old Etonian in his analysis of his speech. Class rather than race was the great divider. A wealthy and privileged and English-educated man would always be acceptable in society. The current rulers of Jordan and Muscat today are both English prep school and Sandhurst graduates. Both of whom followed in their own father’s footsteps. And I’m sure there are many others. London was (and is) very different from NY, just as Paris was very different again.

  11. philippa kelly says:

    Hello Annie,
    How lovely to see you on the Ask Philippa! page and not just on Avenida Drive. You make me think of how open Pickering is to varied ways of playing – in counterpoint to Higgins’ dogged self-determinism. For example, I’m thinking of Pickering’s initial refusal of money to Eliza – ‘sorry, I don’t have any change’, even though we find he is enormously wealthy, as well as the fact that he bank-rolls a very patrician social experiment. AND YET Eliza feels very much that Pick is the one who has taught her to feel like a lady because he has treated her as a lady. So who is Pickering? Is he, as you’ve suggested, possibly a Rajan prince who is more English than the English, schooled in all the best schools? How might Shaw position him in terms of Empire? And what would be the power dynamic between Higgins and Pickering if Pickering were said foreign prince, having learned his English from ‘the best’ and now returning to kneel at Higgins’ feet. I will be interested to see if Jon has thoughts about casting as a historical lens of what COULD have been (i.e. what you’ve suggested above) or as a modern statement on we believe is possible today, which includes a change in our thinking about class, race, life, everything. The theater can show through its prisms so many perceptions & points of view.

    By the way, speaking of theater as a prism, have you seen Shaw’s Fabian Manifesto where he expresses revulsion at ‘the division of Society into hostile classes with large appetites and no dinners at one extreme and large dinners and no appetites at the other’? What an image! And since when have the rich had NO appetites?

  12. philippa kelly says:

    some thoughts from our dirctor, Jonathan, to contribute to the discussion above:

    ‘Not only do we believe in casting the best actors regardless of race and background, we also believe that the art is greatly enhanced when we open up who plays in the canon of all literature, especially the classics. We believe that everyone deserves the right to explore these great works of art, and so we create an intentional process that brings in as many diverse actors as possible. We believe that our audiences are able to see beyond the “historical” incongruities that may result from some casting choices, as the entire enterprise is a creative act, on our part, and on the audience’s part. As for this particular question, Peter Callendar has played so many roles that had in the past traditionally been played by white actors. This choice is not new.

    If we were to be traditional, i.e., sticking to the intentions of the writer, we’d have all men playing every role in Shakespeare, and we would have an all white cast for every classic we make….’

    • Gary Downing says:

      >’we would have an all white cast for every classic we make…’
      Touché to Jonathan! Isn’t this what makes a classic so timeless in that can be still seen clearly through an aged lens?

      My group just loves the diversity shown not only in Calshakes productions like this one and ‘Raisin in the Sun’, but particularly throughout the articles, grove talks, and talkbacks accompanying them where many of the insights are revealed. You (Philippa) are particularly generous in raising these issues to us in context letting us (the theatre goers) discover these subtleties ourselves in our present day lives! We really appreciate that you engage us as critical thinking people…

      One comment our group (including several K-12 teachers) discussed during the talkback was about the Asperger tendencies of Higgins he seems to display toward everyone. Afterwards, we realized the notable exception of Pickering whom if always seems to treat consistently as an equal.

      “Is this because Higgins admires and respects Pickering?” If so, this counters Higgins very assertion that he treats everyone “as if she was a flower girl”. It’s actually quite selective then, isn’t it?

      • philippa kelly says:

        Hi Gary, this is a brilliant observation. Higgins’ respect for Pickering has led some people to wonder whether Higgins and Pickering are supposed to be insinuated within a relationship (which did happen between men in those times but, for legal reasons, had to be COMPLETELY behind closed doors. Note as an example the demise of Oscar Wilde, Shaw’s contemporary.) But I think it is very plausible to think that Higgins thinks only of his passion, phonetics – and he respects Pickering because of their shared enthusiasm for this subject. In this context Higgins’ birth of ‘feeling’ for Eliza could be something of a vexation to this very self-centered character, who has, for a very long time, been very happily straitjacketed within his intellectual passion and his perfectly agreeable home.

  13. Jim says:

    Hi Philippa,

    At yesterday’s pre-performance talk, you referred to a second ending that Shaw wrote for Pygmalion, one written just before World War II. Were you referring to the ending that he wrote for the screenplay of the film with Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller? Or did he write yet another ending?

    About that ending, it is my understanding that when Shaw agreed to allow three of his plays to be filmed, including Pygmalion, he insisted on a contract that prevented them from changing any of the words he wrote. When he saw the film, he hated the ending. Evidently they had used his exact words but staged it in a way that he had not intended, effectively rewriting his conclusion. Since they had not changed any words, Shaw had no legal recourse. Do you know anything more about this? Do you know in what way they changed the staging? Or have I got this all wrong?

    Jim

  14. philippa kelly says:

    Hello Jim,

    I talked with my friend Annie Smart who designed the amazing set. The producer of the 1938 movie, Pascal, cut down the dialogue and also added some extra scenes. He did NOT accept all of director Anthony Asquith’s suggestions about the text – but the text was indeed very faithful to Shaw’s work. Charlotte (Shaw’s wife) said very publicly how happy she was with it.

    Pascal chose three alternate endings for the movie, and, in the last instance, chose the one where Higgins (Leslie Howard, who played Romeo in 1936 and never got over this role!) is lying on the couch and asking about his slippers, with the expectation that Eliza (who has not left) will go fetch them – a strong indication that they will end up together.

    Pascal was a refugee from Germany and had never produced a movie before Shaw chose him for Pygmalion. He had been a friend of Shaw’s for many years – but, although people were dying to have the play made into a movie, it took Pascal years to get the money because no one knew him and trusted that he could make the movie. Then it went on to win both a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award for Shaw!

    Shaw LOATHED the idea of My Fair Lady, by the way – lucky he was dead by then.

    • Jim says:

      I don’t know if you saw the production of My Fair Lady at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival last year, but it had a brilliantly ambiguous staging that allowed us to end the play as we saw it: did Eliza come back to Higgins, or was Higgins all alone and imagining that she came back? Shaw may have liked that ambiguity. Or maybe not. :-) I saw that production several times, and I must admit that I ended it differently almost every time.

      • philippa kelly says:

        Hello Jim,
        sorry I missed this comment. I heard amazing things about that production!!! The director, Amanda Denhert, is coming to do Lear for us next season.

  15. Jay Yamada says:

    Henry Higgins mentions Shakespeare a couple of times but Milton also get prominent billing.

    What’s the connection between Higgins and/or Shaw and Milton?

    • philippa kelly says:

      Hi Jay,
      Higgins mentions that he makes his money from millionaires who want their voices to be perfect so as to suit their financial status, and that this work enables him to pursue his own passion: ‘And on the profits of it I do genuine scientific work in phonetics, and a little as a poet on Miltonic lines.’ For ‘on’ Miltonic lines read ‘along Miltonic lines’ – Milton made blank verse very famous.

    • Jim says:

      I don’t know if this helps, but when I was an English major (many years ago), we had three required courses: Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer. All other authors were optional. Higgins also mentions “the language of Shakespeare, Milton, and the Bible”, giving three examples of mastery of the English language. I believe that he also mentions Keats. Interesting that he focuses on the English poets and not on the prose of Bacon or Dickens.

  16. Howard Matis says:

    In the “Doll House” by Ibsen, Nora is famous for slamming the door at the end. That slam is portrayed as an act of liberation and defiance. However, if you read the end of the play, Nora carefully prepares for her exit. She puts on her cloak and then picks up her purse. She prepares her flight and shows that it is not impulsive. She flees her intolerable situation in a way that allows her to be prepared. Thus, Nora is thinking of her future as she leaves. How do you reconcile both views?

  17. philippa kelly says:

    Hello Howard,

    Nora picks up her cloak and travellign bag. It’s so interesting because if you just took away the bag – and hd her pick up only her cloak – then she’d have to come back because she would be going out into the world without money. This is why the 2nd ending forced on him by his agent (which he reviled) was so unnecessary – via a simple subtraction of one prop, the agent’s wish would have been granted and Ibsen freed from the necessity of writing an ending that he called a barbaric outrage. (The agent feared that audiences would never accept a woman leaving her children – so he forced Ibsen to write the new ending in which Nora comes back, is confronted by her children, and collapses). Nora could have (for the German version) simply stormed out with the cloak and the door slam, and the audince would have known she’d have to be back in the morning to get the kids up. But the ending Ibsen intended was for her to leave forever, for the sake of saving herself from this awful existence within the confines of a doll’s house. Eliza has nowhere to go – she can’t go back to what she was, and yet she doesn’t want to live with Higgins and Pickerings as one of the ‘three old bachelors’ he has invited her to be part of. She goes out to who knows where – like Nora in Ibsen’s original version.

  18. Betty Watson says:

    I attended the Grove Talk yesterday (Aug. 17) and very carefully watched for the object that Henry Higgins was supposed to show at the end — an object that would give a hint to what was to follow for Eliza and maybe Higgins. It looked to me as though Higgins found a piece of lint in his pants pocket and let it fall to the ground.
    What did I miss?

  19. whitney thwaite says:

    Thanks for your insightful grove talks. We always go to them to prep for the show. It is great to know a little about the author and what was going on in his life while he wrote the play.

    I really enjoyed the Raisin in the Sun talkback. I wish we had more time to really hear all of the different points of view. It is rare that we get to have an honest conversation with people from different backgrounds. I thought you handled the comments and concerns with grace. As a middle school teacher, I see the importance of these conversations. They are not always easy, but they are almost always worthwhile.

    Thanks again,

    Whitney Thwaite

    • philippa kelly says:

      Dear Whitney,
      Thanks for this feedback. It also makes me glad because one of the purposes of a ‘talkback’ is to ‘talk back’ to the production, giving all kinds of perspectives and asking all kinds of questions from various perspectives. I come from a country where there are many different cultures (all of us whites were imports during the last 220 years – my own mother’s ancestor was a woman brought over as a convict on the first fleet from Britain, convicted for stealing silk handkerchiefs), but people have still not engaged very deeply with the question of the inhabitants who were there for the 40 000 years previously, and whose culture has largely been decimated. In the Aboriginal desert communities there is a lot of ill-health – you go to the store and you can buy a pizza for $2 and a bag of apples for $15, which speaks volumes. BUT there is the most amazing art that comes out of there. I think art can be very powerful (theater, visual art, music). Art touches something visceral, something that goes beyond any rational capacity to contain and explain it.

  20. Jennifer says:

    Perhaps this has been addressed elsewhere, but I did have a question about the “Pygmalion” ending as seen in the Cal Shakes production. In the script version I read online (at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3825/3825-h/3825-h.htm), the play concludes with Eliza retorting “Buy them yourself,” after Higgins rattles off his shopping list. In your production, she pauses a moment to inform him that everything’s been taken care of and “I don’t know how you’ll manage without me.” Was the Cal Shakes version one of Bernard Shaw’s or contemporaries’ versions, or did you tweak the script for this production? Thanks.

    • philippa kelly says:

      Hi Jennifer, The version we have used is the script of 1937, entirely written by Shaw for the British film of Pygmalion ( starring Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard, who also starred in Gone With the Wind as Ashley). This script was released in 1938, and later published as the revised official play script in 1941.

      Annie Smart, set designer, makes a beautiful summary: “We made a couple of small changes to the film version.
      One page before the end of the play Mother Higgins comes back on to take Eliza off to her father’s wedding. In the 1941 version Mrs H then stays on stage right to the end of the play and witnesses the final exchanges between E and H. Jon instead has Mrs H exit once she has made her reminder to E.
      This means that after E says the line “I don’t know how you’ll manage without me,” we then get to see her leave on her own volition.

      This also means we see H left alone on stage at the very end of the play. A man who has made his own, very single bed and will almost certainly have to go lie on it for the rest of his life.

      Jon also cut the very final line of the play (one used both in the musical version of the play and in the 1938 movie) “She’s going to marry Freddy. Ha ha ha ha. Freddy. Freddy!!!!!” as it implies rather reductively that a grown woman can only be conceived as someone’s wife or lover and not as her own person (which was probably horribly true, even in 1941).

      Otherwise the script of 1941 stands intact.”

      • Jennifer says:

        Thank you. Interesting.

      • Roy says:

        Saw the play today 8/23.
        There’s a sense of reflection and contemplation in the manner Higgins slowly moves offstage muttering softly again and again “She’s going to marry Freddy”. As though he hasn’t completely resigned himself to that prospect. The deleted “Ha, ha, … ” sequence would have been much more definitive for that purpose. Moscone’s choice leaves us with a Higgins who’s reconsidering what’s just transpired and may attempt to engage Eliza to revisit their relationship. Is that what Moscone wanted to achieve? Leave the door open for the possibility of some sort of continuing association between Higgins and Eliza?

        In one version the play ends with Higgins declaring his conviction that Eliza will return with the items he’s asked her to purchase. Is this the ORIGINAL ending?

        • philippa kelly says:

          Hello Roy, I love what Jon did with the ring!!! It totally opens it up, doesn’t it, suggesting that Eliza has gone and now we are left with a Higgins who has learned… how much? Anything? Here’s the original very first (1912) ending:

          HIGGINS. Good-bye, mother. [He is about to kiss her, when he recollects something]. Oh, by the way, Eliza, order a ham and a Stilton cheese, will you? And buy me a pair of reindeer gloves, number eights, and a tie to match that new suit of mine, at Eale & Binman’s. You can choose the color. [His cheerful, careless, vigorous voice shows that he is incorrigible].

          LIZA [disdainfully] Buy them yourself. [She sweeps out].

          MRS. HIGGINS. I’m afraid you’ve spoiled that girl, Henry. But never mind, dear: I’ll buy you the tie and gloves.

          HIGGINS [sunnily] Oh, don’t bother. She’ll buy em all right enough. Good-bye.

          They kiss. Mrs. Higgins runs out. Higgins, left alone, rattles his cash in his pocket; chuckles; and disports himself in a highly self-satisfied manner.

  21. philippa kelly says:

    This research is for patron Maureen, as promised in the grove last night: in 19th century France, the language and manners of the working class tended to be less formal than their bourgeois neighbors. BUT their garments much more visibly indicated their poverty and set them apart from the middle classes. So… quite a bit of difference from 19th century England, where the moment you opened your mouth it indicated your class.

  22. Roy says:

    Hi Philippa,
    Saw 8/23′s Saturday matinee.
    About the ending. There’s a sense of reflection and contemplation in the manner Higgins slowly moves offstage muttering softly again and again “She’s going to marry Freddy”. As though he hasn’t completely resigned himself to that prospect. Unlike the Higgins in my copy of the text the onstage Higgins isn’t moved to respond with condescending laughter. Without that reaction there’s uncertainty. Moscone’s choice shows us a Higgins who appears to be reconsidering what’s just transpired and who may attempt to engage Eliza to revisit their relationship. Is that what Moscone wanted to achieve? Leave the door open for the possibility of some sort of continuing alliance between Higgins and Eliza?

    In one version the play ends with Higgins declaring his conviction that Eliza will return with the items on shopping list he gave her. Is this the ORIGINAL ending?

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