Pygmalion: Reasons for Bachelordom (The Mercedes-Benz Complex)

Today I finished reading Pygmalion. It may come as no surprise to you that I enjoyed it immensely. The play by George Bernard Shaw is loosely based on the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. Pygmalion has been adapted into one highly successful musical and two movies: My Fair Lady and Educating Rita. I have watched both. As I tend to do with these things I shall type the lines that filled me with glee.

Henry Higgins: A woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere- no right to live. Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespear, Milton and The Bible.

Pickering: I think you ought to know, Doolittle, that Mr Higgin's intentions are entirely honourable.
 Doolittle: Course they are, Governor. If I thought they wasn't, I'd ask fifty.
 Higgins: (Revolted) Do you mean to say you callous rascal, that you would sell your daughter for £50?
Doolittle: Not in a general way i wouldn't; but to oblige a gentleman like you I'd do a good deal, I do assure you.
Pickering: Have you no morals, man?
Doolittle: (unabashed) Can't afford them, Governor...
(a brilliant exchange. It's not the funniest exchange but I still find it quite entertaining. This reminds me of Henry's (my Knight errant) affairs. The love of his life was enamoured with My Fair Lady.

 Higgins: I've picked up a girl.
Mrs. Higgins: Does that mean some girl has picked you up?
Higgins: Not at all. I don't mean a love affair.
Mrs. Higgins: What a pity!
Higgins: Why?
Mrs Higgins: Well, you never fall in love with anyone under forty-five. When will you discover that there are some rather nice looking young women about?
Higgins: Oh, I can't be bothered with young women. My idea of a loveable woman is something as like you as possible. I shall never get into the way of seriously liking young women: some habits lie too deep to be changed. Besides they're all idiots.
(I agree with Higgins completely. Young women are indeed all nincompoops I refer to a conversation I had with some 2 years ago...

Enter Frog and Labi
Afam: My dream car is the 1980s Mercedes. If I could get a second-hand, third-hand or even a fourth-hand version I would be infinitely pleased.
Labi: Is he joking?
Frog: I'm afraid not.
Labi: Wow. That's different.
Afam: What's wrong?
Frog: Please don't ever turn up at my house in such.
Afam: Why not?
Frog: I shall turn you away. Isn't that right Labi.
Labi: Yes! How could I be spotted with a man who drives a second hand vehicle?

 It struck me that they should be happy to be picked up by a man with a vehicle at all. Furthermore, anyone who knows anything knows that the 1980 Benz I was referring to is undoubtedly a classic.
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We continue...

Mrs. Higgins: Will it rain, do you think?
Liza: The shallow depression in the west of these islands is likely to move slowly in an easterly direction. There are no indications of any great change in the barometrical situation.
(GUFFFAWWWW!!!! Oh the hilarity! I'll be sure to use this in conversation. Such delightful complexity can only be met with befuddlement.

The next lines are equally brilliant. It is a pity that they aren't featured in my Fair Lady.
Higgins: Yes, by George: it's the most absorbing experiment I ever tackled. She regularly fills our lives up; doesn't she Pick?
Pickering: We're always talking Eliza
Higgins: Teaching Eliza.
Pickering: Dressing Eliza.
Mrs Higgins: What!
Higgins: Inventing new Elizas.
Higgins: You know, she has the most extraordinary quickness of ear.
Pickering: I assure you, my dear Mrs. Higgins, that girl
speaking together
Higgins: Just like a parrot. I've tried with every
Pickering: is a genius. She can play the piano quite beautifully
Higgins: possible sort of sound that a human can make-
Pickering: We have taken her to classical concerts and to music
Higgins: Continental dialects, African dialects, Hottentot
Pickering: halls; and it's all the same to her: she plays everything
Higgins: clicks, things it took me years to get hold of; and
Pickering: Beethoven and Brahms or Lehar and Lionel Morickton;
Higgins: been at it all her life. though six months ago she'd never as
Pickering:much as touched a piano -
Mrs. Higgins:(putting her fingers in her ears as they are by this time shouting one another down with an intolerable noise) Sh-sh-sh-sh! [They stop].
Pickering: I beg your pardon.
Higgins: Sorry when Pickering starts nobody can get a word in edgewise.

This is clearly a case of the pot calling the kettle black. 

Higgins: You see, Eliza, all men are not confirmed old bachelors like me and the colonl. Most men are the marrying sort (Poor Devils)

Liza: I know. I am not blaming him. It is his way, isn't it? But it made such a difference to me that you didn't do it. You see, really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking, and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she's treated. I shall always be a flower girl to professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl and always will; but I know I can be a lady to you, because you always treat me like a lady and always will. (She speaks the truth.)

Higgins: If you can't appreciate what you've got, you'd better get what you can appreciate.

The best part of the play is the end. It's a sort of epilogue that is not written in the fashion of most plays. Shaw explains why Higgins and Eliza could not possibly be romantically involved and what happens next for those without an imagination. I was glad for this for I didn't want the story to end. I thought that the end was a big screw you to the makers of the movie my Fair Lady. I found that Educating Rita could hardly be called an adaptation of pygmalion because if it were Finding Forrester and any other movie or book involving a teacher and a student would be as well. In light of this the people at Netflix should read pygmalion lest they be sued for libel.  I shall now delight you with quotes from the end.

Shaw: The rest of the story need not be shown in action, and indeed, would hardly need retellling if our imaginations were not so enfeebled by their lazy dependence on the ready-mades and reach-me-downs of the ragshop in which Romance keeps it's stock of "happy endings" to misfit all stories.
The above is infinitely true. The endings that offer the most satisfaction are often the least interesting.

Shaw: (I had to paraphrase this one) The first necessity of a married woman is to come between him and his mother.
Shaw: "When you go to Nietzsche, "take your whip with you."
Just like that I find another name on my summer reading list, Nietzsche. It's looking like a long and hard June, July, August, September, and October.

Shaw: Galatea never does quite like Pygmalion: his relation to her is too godlike to be altogether agreeable.

The closing line of the book leaves much to be considered. Is this why we never quite like our parents and teachers? Moving on; I'm currently reading the Importance of Being Ernest.

Happy Days 

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