The use of sophisticated and well-mannered language is an art. People estimate and evaluate our position, prestige, and class through the use of our language. The movie My Fair Lady depicts the theme of language, class difference, love, ego, and culture. It describes two different classes of society. Here in this, Review of the Movie My Fair Lady 1964. we will discuss all important aspects of language, linguistics and societal issues. There is a professor of Phonetics and who’s business is to make standardized language and pronunciation.
Mr. Higgins calls himself, the Professor of Phonetics. As a learned and academic person, it is not suitable for him to humiliate someone, but he criticizes Flower girl Eliza’s Language and accent. Higgins praises Miltonic and Shakespearean Language and feels proud as a follower of Queen’s or Hungarian accent. He Calls the flower girl Eliza the product of gutter. So the watcher finds here the theme of class difference, language, and pride at this stage. These three themes are interlinked with each other. They describe how people are treated, based on the language, its standards, and on class differences as well as the theme of pride is also present in the movie. Professor Higgins meets Colonel Pickering, who is also a linguist of Indian dialects, especially Sanskrit. How proudly he passes comments, “You see this creature with her curbstone English? The English that will keep her in the gutter till the end of her days? Well, sir, in six months, I could pass her off as a duchess at an Embassy Ball. I could even get her a job as a lady’s maid or a shop assistant, which requires better English.” It depicts how people feel proud and consider others, low-level creatures as they possess something unique. It also describes the importance of standard language and how language helps people to get better livings.
We find ego, pride, and monetary differences the next morning when flower-girl Eliza comes to the professor to learn the Standard English language. Although she is a poor girl and has not enough money to pay to the professor, she has a dream for a better future. Eliza wants to join a flower shop as an assistant or any other striking career. That’s why she wants to get rid of her Cockney accent.
On the other-hand professor is demanding so high, and she can not pay that sum of money, and even the professor insult her and asks to go home if she can not pay. This thing shows how much material and subjectivity make hindrance to the success of people. But if someone has a real motivation and passion, then he can get an opportunity from somewhere as Colonel Pickering offers to pay her fees if Mr. Higgins makes that poor girl into a duchess at an embassy ball.
Higgins calls her Ugli and filthy girl, and she can not learn the manners, sophistication, and Queen’s English until she will not get rid of that filth and ugliness. So she needs complete cleansing. These things show how elite class of any society behaves middle or primary class of the community and how it considers them Alien in the culture.
The stubborn and rude behavior of Higgins also shows his prideful and self-centered nature. Even at 3 am, he calls her to recite his words and continue to learn. He puts marbles in her mouth while exercising and reciting multiple sentences like this one; “In Hertford, Hereford, Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen.”Here she needs not to drop the sound of ‘h,’ and to say, “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain” rather than “The rine in spine sties minely in the pline.”Learning comes from motivation and politeness, and as he motivates and politely instructs her, she discovers her targeted sounds. So, the watcher can observe how much motivation, courtesy, and hard work are essential in learning. If someone has a combination of thrice, he must become successful in her goals.
After these exercises, she gets polished and shows the required result regarding her learning. She goes with Higgins and Pickering and participates in the party at Mrs. Higgins’s house and somehow shows her sophistication and learned behavior. Here she interacts with Freddy and feels crush on him. At the horse races, when she feels excited, she uses her cockney accent. It is also a dilemma of second language learners as they think in their first language, and sometimes they unintentionally make expressions in the primary language or their mother tongue. Due to this, Linguists suggest that the direct method is more beneficial for language learning instead of grammar-translation approach. This situation also depicts the class differences when she speaks in her cockney accent, while people show different facial expressions as she is an alien in their society.
In Queen’s party, everyone considers her the soul of the party and wants to dance with her. Even the prince dances with her and gives her prestige. Mr. Higgins has won the bet, achieved his goal, and made her duchess. Here Higgins treats her as an object, but she needs some sympathy and appreciation while Higgins considers it only his achievement, not of Eliza. Everyone appreciates Higgins. This attitude provokes Eliza and quarrels with Higgins throws his sleepers and leaves his house at night. At this point, she has lost his previous identity and can not work as a flower girl. And for whom she has affection, he treats her as an object only. She considers her an alien in that society. Even her father forces her to go back to Higgins as he had received some money from Higgins when she went for learning. It is also a dilemma of society that how parents use their children for worldly gains. The most important thing in the Review of the Movie “My Fair Lady 1964” is the depiction of the behavior of the people how they are found fake identities.
The theme of love and affection is also present in the movie. We know that when we are used to something, we can not survive without it. And it happens to Higgins. We observe that he is tensed and not feeling good after Eliza’s move. He passes different comments for her and feels loneliness. He visits his mother’s house finds Eliza, and he could not find comfort even in a meeting with her. His mother also warns Higgins to behave like a good man. As he returns to his home, he turns on the gramophone, listens to her recitation voice, and feels lonely. At that point, she returns to his house, and the final dialogue of Higgins is, “Eliza, where the devil are my slippers?”
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‘My Fair Lady’ is the production of 1964, but we feel that it is describing the issues and problems of today’s world. It describes the educational and language learning perspective, the struggle of the protagonist in an excellent way, and she finally conquers linguistics issues, her flaws, and becomes a duchess and well-mannered lady. She also finds love and affection and gets rid of her drunken father. The performance of the protagonist and his professor is excellent. Still, the behavior of the elite and educated class that is shown here is not suitable for the poor and lower-class. We find here people having false identities and egos. Moreover, the class difference is torture for the lower-class, and they also try to overcome this difference by struggle, passion, and hard work. So the Review of the Movie My Fair Lady 1964 describes all important points regarding linguistics and language learning.
Written & Reviewed by; Muhammad Asad Kasra,
M.Phil Scholar, Riphah Institute of Language and Literature, Riphah International University Lahore, Pakistan.